The original model for Dumbo was somewhat photorealistic, but eventually scrapped for the more expressive one seen in the movie.
Colleen Atwood opted not to make a single black and white striped clothing item, saying it was too predictable to use in a Tim Burton film as it was one of Burton's visual trademarks.
There was a swear jar on set. Whenever an actor cursed, they needed to put money in the jar. At the end of shooting, the total was given to charity. Allegedly, Colin Farrell was the worst offender and was responsible for the majority of the money.
Eva Green, who plays aerial artist Colette, is afraid of heights. She was able to overcome her fear during filming, with the help of a professional performer who trained her in her stunts.
All three members of the Farrier family fake American accents. Colin Farrell (Holt) is from Ireland, while Finley Robbins (Joe) and Nico Parker (Milly) are English.
According to Farrell's assistant C.E. Whitaker III, production was stunned at Colin Farrell's ability to perform a great deal of stunts and ride horses with complete ease.
Nico Parker's acting debut. She filmed her part while her mother, Thandie Newton, finished the fellow Disney production Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) on a nearby movie set.
This is Danny DeVito's fourth collaboration with Tim Burton after Batman Returns (1992), Mars Attacks! (1996), and Big Fish (2003). In three of them, DeVito has played a circus member and he said that when Burton called him up asking him to be in this film, Burton referred to the project as "the completion of the circus trilogy."
This is Eva Green's third collaboration with Tim Burton, after Dark Shadows (2012) and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016).
Will Smith and Tom Hanks were approached for roles. Smith was interested but backed out to do Bad Boys for Life (2020) and would later sign on for Aladdin (2019). Hanks was courted for a villain role, but turned it down to film Greyhound (2020).
The "Pink Elephants on Parade" sequence, which was seen by an inebriated Dumbo in Dumbo (1941), was modified into a bubble show that is seen through a sober but spellbound Dumbo's eyes.
Colin Farrell, who had worked with horses in films before, often took action to ensure the horses on set were treated properly.
Boxing announcer Michael Buffer appears as a circus ringmaster. Instead of his trademark line "Let's get ready to rumble!", he says "Let's get ready for Dumbo!"
The production team created a full-scale version of the train Casey Jr. circus train from Dumbo (1941). But it had to be given wear and tear to reflect the circus's aged and rundown condition in the film.
The circus troupe assembled for the film hailed from all over the world, and so the significant language barriers made it difficult for the performers to connect. Then one day they set up a ping-pong table, and this helped the performers to socialize with each other.
The ring announcer introduces Dumbo with lyrics from "When I See an Elephant Fly," a song from Dumbo (1941). The musical theme itself appears at the end of the film.
V.A. Vandermere's Dreamland circus is heavily inspired by three theme parks: Coney Island, World's Fair, and various Disneyland theme parks.
Roshan Seth, who portrays snake charmer Premesh Singh, actually carries a live python around his neck.
The circus performers Ivan the Wonderful and Catherine the Greater are portrayed by Miguel Muñoz Segura and Zenaida Alcalde, a real-life couple who are also skilled performers.
A clown congratulates a successful Dumbo with a bottle of champagne, but Medici shoos him away saying babies shouldn't have booze. This is a homage to Dumbo getting drunk in Dumbo (1941), which set off the "Pink Elephants on Parade" song.
The plush toys of Dumbo being sold at Dreamland are designed in Dumbo's animated form in Dumbo (1941).
The film is set in 1919, in the aftermath of World War I. Production designer Rick Heinrichs studied period architecture and photographs from that era, costume designer Colleen Atwood used 90% vintage outfits from that era.
The cover of "Baby Mine", used in the teaser trailer, is performed by the Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora Aksnes, who was on tour in Brazil when she performed the track. This is the first time she contributes to a movie soundtrack. The original rendition was written by Ned Washington and Frank Churchill. It was nominated for a Best Song Academy Award.
This is Michael Keaton's fourth collaboration with Tim Burton after Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989), and Batman Returns (1992).
The filmmakers brought in real circus performers to bring a sense of authenticity to their circus. This included circus choreographer Kristian Kristof, a Hungarian fourth-generation circus performer who provided extensive circus knowledge and international circus connections to aid the production.
There are no talking animals in this adaptation; instead the story is revised to include more human characters, focusing more so on their perspective. However, the animals are homaged in the film: One of the three silent white mice that Milly and Joe bring to Dumbo is dressed in a ringmaster outfit, which refers to Dumbo's sidekick Timothy Q Mouse A stork perches itself outside of Mrs. Jumbo's train car around the time Dumbo is born, which refers to the stork who brought baby Dumbo to his mother. Two elephants in Medici's troupe act hostile to Dumbo during his debut appearance, which refers to the antagonistic elephants. The last time Dumbo flies he holds a black feather (all the other times the feather was white). This refers to Jim Crow, who gave Dumbo the magic feather.
Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito previously appeared together in Johnny Dangerously (1984) and Batman Returns (1992). In both films, Keaton was the protagonist and DeVito played a villain. Here, Keaton is the villain and DeVito plays a supporting character.
Sharon Rooney was tapped to sing "Baby Mine" in the film. The song is special to Rooney, as her grandmother used to sing it to her when she was a child. Rooney also had to learn to play the ukulele for the song; she'd never picked up the instrument before, but it took her just a week to learn to play the song.
The amusement park in the film has an exhibit about what the future might be like - this is a reference to Disney World's Carousel of Progress as well as other Disney Attractions at Epcot Center.
It's based upon a story written by husband-wife team Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl, and is loosely inspired by Walt Disney's 1941 animated film of the same name.
The role played by Alan Arkin was written with Christopher Walken in mind. Walken had to drop out of the project early on so Arkin was cast instead. However director Tim Burton always liked the hint of menace Walken could bring to his roles and asked Arkin if he could deliver the lines in the same manner that Walken would.
During the summer of 2017, DeObia Oparei, Joseph Gatt, and Alan Arkin joined the film. DeVito said that "[he loves] Tim and [he] would do anything to be in a movie with him." DeVito said that Burton is "[a]lways spirited, always an artist, always thinking about the craft, always painting with his mind" and that he felt like "part of some kind of palette, a color scheme" while filming the movie.
Two elephant props were used during filming "to give [the production team] an idea of his size and his shape in the scene; an idea of the lighting, and that kind of thing; where he's going to be for camera." Creature performer Edd Osmond used a green suit to represent the character while filming certain scenes, as well as an "interactive reference" for scenes that required the actors to be in contact with the character, and as a guide for Burton to use, with Burton later providing information of his performance to the animation team. Unlike most remakes of Disney's animated films, Dumbo mostly used practical sets during filming.
Chris Pine was offered a part, but turned it down. He ended up being a cast member of A Wrinkle in Time (2018) after filming Wonder Woman (2017).
HIDDEN MICKEY REFERENCE - This can be briefly seen at the very beginning of the soap bubble blowing scene prior to Dumbo's debut at Dreamland. The Mickey concerned is one of the first animals blown before the bubbles start to turn into elephant shapes.
The circus train has the number 41 on the front - 1941 is the year the original Dumbo (1941) was released.
The tank that houses Miss Atlantis was constructed with double walls - a narrow internal tank that lined the bigger tank was filled with water and fish to create the illusion that she was underwater.
This is Tim Burton's first live-action remake of a Disney animated film. This does not include Alice in Wonderland (2010) which is a sequel to the original film and not a reimagining of the 1950s animated film.
When Dumbo first appears in the circus and is being pushed around in a baby buggy, the letters read "Dear Baby Jumbo." Following the damage to the sign and letters falling off/moving around, it reads "Ear Baby Dumbo."
This is the first live action reboot of a Disney animated feature film that's completely original and not an adaptation of anything. The original Dumbo film was based on a children's story, but it wasn't a fairy tale, rather, a tool for a miniature panorama toy device.
This is the third live action reboot of a Disney animated feature film to discard the spoken dialogue of the animal characters. The first had been was Cinderella (2015) with the title character's mice friends, this does not include 101 Dalmatians (1996) which was completely different from and not based on the original 1961 film.
This is the second collaboration between Tim Burton and Alan Arkin, with the first being Edward Scissorhands (1990).
This is Michael Keaton's fourth Disney film, after Herbie Fully Loaded (2005), Cars (2006), and Toy Story 3 (2010). Keaton also starred in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), which is technically distributed by Sony/Columbia but is part of Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While Dumbo (1941) ended with Dumbo discovering his flying magic and becoming his circus's star attraction, this adaptation focuses on what happens after Dumbo becomes a success.
Production designer Rick Heinrichs cites the paintings of 20th-century artist Edward Hopper as an inspiration for the look of the film.
Kruger wrote the script as a story that "offered a way to tell that story in a framework that expanded it, but without redoing the original [film]", as well as a story that "was simple, with an emotional simplicity, and didn't interfere with what the basic through line of the original is about." Like the original film, Dumbo depicts the character as a symbol of someone who does not fit and turns his disabilities into an advantage. Kruger wrote the script in order to "explore how the people of the circus world would relate to Dumbo's journey", while Springer said that "[the production team] really wanted to explore the human side of [Dumbo's] story and give it historical context. In the animated feature, Dumbo flies for the world at the end of the film. [They] wanted to find out how the world reacts when people learn that this elephant can fly".
Most of the filming was done at Pinewood Studios and Cardington Airfield in England.
The first Disney movie since Finding Dory (2016) (2016) to be filmed in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio.
The film's code name, Big Ears, is a reference not just to Dumbo, but to Tim Burton's other projects, Big Eyes and Big Fish.
According to visual effects supervisor Richard Stammers, a motion base, which he described as "essentially a hydraulic round gimbal rig" was used for scenes in which Green's character flies with Dumbo, with Hydraulic pistons used to simulate Dumbo's flying.
Production designer Rick Heinrichs designed the film's scenes in a way that represents both the film's story and the period it is set, stating that the film's story "provided a very specific period, but at the same time, having worked with Tim many times in the past, [he knows] that [Burton is] a little less interested in giving a history lesson as he is in the emotional story being told."
Danny DeVito (Medici) and Sandy Martin (Verma) have appeared on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005) together.
Will Smith declining to star in this film and instead choosing to appear in Aladdin (2019) makes him the second actor to choose a live-action remake of a Disney Renaissance movie over a live-action adaptation of a Walt Disney animated film. Emma Watson was offered the titular role in Cinderella (2015) but chose to play Belle in Beauty and the Beast (2017) instead.
Both the "Dreamland" and circus scenes were designed differently in order to showcase their contrasts.
Miss Atlantis' costume consisted of more than 100 overlapping hand-stitched scales, which were were constructed from 3-4 layers of fabric and given sequin borders to give each scale a reflective quality.
Both Colin Farrell and Michael Keaton have played Marvel Comics villains: Farrell as Bullseye in Daredevil (2003) and Keaton as Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).
Though obviously this is a reimagining of original animated feature Dumbo (1941), this also has a new plot that is very similar to Free Willy (1993). Both revolve around a financially struggling attraction with a particular animal as the main event. They both also have a tycoon pulling the strings on the animals, try to cause them harm, and feature a rescue mission to set them free.
According to Colin Farrell, Tim Burton would act out the scenes from behind the camera as he watched the actors perform.
The glove over Holt's prosthetic hand bears a striking resemblance to Disney mascot Mickey Mouse's glove.
This is the first live action reboot of a Disney animated feature film and the second Disney film overall to feature a biracial family after A Wrinkle in Time (2018).
Is the third live action reboot of a Disney animated feature film to release in March, after Cinderella (2015) and Beauty and the Beast (2017), followed by Mulan (2020); as well as the second Disney film from Tim Burton to release in March, after Alice in Wonderland (2010).
In January 2017, it was announced that Will Smith was "in talks" to play the father of the children who develop a friendship with the lovable elephant after seeing him at the circus. However, Smith later passed on the role due to scheduling conflicts in his filming for Bad Boys for Life, among other reasons. Smith went on to be the Genie in Disney's live-action remake of Aladdin. Bill Hader, Chris Pine and Casey Affleck were also offered the role, but passed on it before Colin Farrell was cast. Farrell, a fan of Burton, chose to work on the film because "[t]he idea of [acting in] something as sweet and fantastical and otherworldly, while being grounded in some recognizable world that we can relate to, under the direction of Burton, was something he always wanted to do." In March 2017, Eva Green and Danny DeVito, recurring collaborators of Burton's, joined the cast as Colette, a trapeze artist, and Max Medici, the circus' ringmaster, respectively. Due to her fear of heights, Green trained with aereolist Katherine Arnold and choreographer Fran Jaynes in order to prepare for the role. In April 2017, Michael Keaton joined the cast, rounding out the few prominent "adult" live-action roles. Tom Hanks was reportedly in discussions for the role before Keaton was cast.
The visual effects were provided by Moving Picture Company, Framestore and Rise FX, supervised by Patrick Ledda, Richard Hoover, Jonathan Weber, Richard Stammers and produced by Hal Couzens with the help of Rising Sun Pictures and Rodeo FX. Title designer Matt Curtis made the opening titles for Dumbo, marking his first collaboration with Disney since Around the World in 80 Days.
Extras in circus scenes were not actors, but actual circus acts. Over 600 circus performers from around the world were hired for crowd scenes.
This is Tim Burton's only second movie not to have opening credits, the first one was Alice in Wonderland (2010).
Dreamland is set in colors of red, white and blue, the traditional American colors.
The fifth Disney's live-action/computer-animated hybrid film, after G-Force (2009), The Jungle Book (2016), The BFG (2016), and Christopher Robin (2018).
This is the second Disney film to have a heroine named Collette, after Ratatouille (2007).
The film's cast includes one Oscar winner: Alan Arkin and two Oscar nominees: Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito.
This is the third live-action Disney film to feature Asian or African elephants, after Operation Dumbo Drop (1995) and The Jungle Book (2016).
Named by the Adaptation: While the ringmaster in the original film was unnamed and simply called "the Ringmaster", here the names of his counterparts are Max Medici and V.A. Vandemere