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Disney moves forward on Maleficent 2 production

Disney is finally moving forward on the follow-up to hit 2014 movie Maleficent.

The original fantasy film was loosely based on Charles Perrault's fairy tale and Walt Disney's 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty, and starred Angelina Jolie as the titular antagonist.

While a sequel has been in the works since 2015, the production appears to be edging closer as Jez Butterworth has been tapped to rewrite the script, according to The Tracking Board.

The English screenwriter and director is known for his work on 2001's Birthday Girl with Nicole Kidman and for co-writing films such as 2014's Edge of Tomorrow and 2015's Black Mass. He also had input on the script for James Bond film Spectre and was most recently engaged by Disney executives to work on the upcoming Cruella movie, the new live-action version of the 101 Dalmatians villain.

Maleficent writer Linda Woolverton wrote the first draft of the screenplay for the sequel, while Joe Roth will be back to produce. Plot details remain under wraps.

Jolie confirmed she would reprise her role in Maleficent 2 in April 2016. It is not yet known if fellow stars Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley and Sam Riley will return, while any release date will be dependent on Jolie's film schedule.

The actress' last major screen project was 2016 animated movie Kung Fu Panda 3 in which she voiced Tigress, and she is slated to appear in two other releases; World War II spy drama The Spy Who Loved and an adaptation of Simon Sebag Montefiore's book Catherine the Great and Potemkin: The Imperial Love Affair.

In addition, the Academy Award winner has signed on to be a producer of Disney children's film, The One and Only Ivan.

Maleficent was met with mixed reviews from critics, but was a commercial success, having grossed over $758 million worldwide, becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of 2014 and the highest-grossing film starring Jolie.

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