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The film is based on Alex Flinn's 2007 supernatural romance novel of the same name, and has been in production since CBS Films bought the rights in December 2007. In February 2009, it was announced by CBS Films President and Chief Executive Officer Amy Baer that Daniel Barnz would direct and write the screenplay. This is one of the first projects to be put into development by CBS Films. Susan Cartsonis is producing the film through Storefront Films, and Roz Weisberg is co-producer. Initially, the executives hoped for a late 2008 theatrical release; however, the WGA strike delayed that possibility.
Baer expressed excitement about the director, saying, "Daniel’s fresh vision makes him one of the most exciting directors of his generation. We are thrilled to partner with him as he brings his unique voice to arguably the most universally resonant myth in storytelling." Barnz anticipated bringing an indie sensibility to Flinn's story. "It's a very commercial idea that I get to tell in a highly artistic fashion," he said. Barnz stated:
There was this sort of hyper-modern version of this story and that it was told from his perspective, which we'd never seen before and thematically, because it's all about beauty and how you look and inner beauty that this was such a great story set in the teenage world and for teenagers, because it has such a great message to it.
In writing the script, Barnz was inspired by the films Say Anything keeping the experiences of teenagers in mind while still basing the screenplay on the novel. He "immediately fell for it, because [he] saw that there was an amazing opportunity to tell a modern version of this fairytale and [he] loved the idea of it." Barnz remarked that he was happy to see the story told through the beast's perspective and that it focused more on the romance than the supernatural.
Pettyfer's appearance in the film mostly features him wearing heavy makeup and prosthetics. The prosthetics differ from what is described in the book. Having no fur or fangs, Pettyfer was pleased with the revision:
I was very happy to know I wasn't going to be furry. Question is, were you happy I wasn't furry? Well, I think the audience will be happy. This beast make-up is phenomenal. You're talking to someone who is a fanatic about it [prosthetics and movie make-up] and I've never seen anything that looks remotely similar to this.
The makeup was composed of 67 pieces. There were 7 pieces on his head, as well as 60 tattoos and individual scars applied following application of full-body makeup. The facial prosthetics and tattoos took almost three hours to apply, and to put on the full body makeup took the artists 6 hours to finish. Pettyfer commented on his 'transformation':
It really affected me because as soon as I shaved my head it kind of put me in this weird place, the same place [Kyle is in after his transformation] which really helped me with the role a lot. But at the same time, it kind of is a challenge because you are fighting personally with your own problems off set, but then onset you have a great resource to go to.
Tony Gardner and Alterian, Inc. were responsible for the design and creation of the prosthetics and tattoos. Jamie Kelman handled Pettyfer's makeup application from day to day. Hudgens described the beast's look as "crazy" and that it moved her in "a really weird and peculiar way." Several days before the announced production date, several members of the cast were photographed while headed to a wardrobe studio for fittings. The costumes and the wardrobes used in the film were designed by Suttirat Anne Larlarb.
Beastly is one of the first feature films to be produced and distributed by CBS Films. It has a budget of $20 million for filming and marketing. Production began on June 13, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and ended in August of the same year. The first clip of the official "Beastly" trailer was filmed in Chicago, shooting Walter Payton College Prep High School as Buckston Academy High School. Old Montreal and Laval were used as filming locations, as well as the Mount Royal Park in Montreal, which served as Central Park in New York and other outdoor locations. Local Montreal diner Place Milton is also featured as Cafe Santiago. Filming was done in 45 days.
The Quebec government announced on June 12, 2009 that it was increasing its tax credit for foreign producers making films and TV shows here from 25 per cent of labour expenses to 25 per cent of the entire budget of productions shot here. Beastly was one of the film productions who chose to film in Montreal before the announcement of tax-paying increase.
Hudgens left for Montreal to film following the MTV Movie Awards. "I'm laid-back about it," she said. On June 4, 2009, Hudgens and Pettyfer arrived in Montreal. Neil Patrick Harris also went to Montreal to shoot his scenes, and at the same time, for his lead role in an independent film. Hudgens was the first to wrap shooting in order to promote the film Bandslam. Re-shoots were conducted in 2010 due to the push back of the film's release.
The score of the film was composed by Marcelo Zarvos. Songs by Swedish indie band Marching Band will be featured in the film. The film's soundtrack will be released on March 1, 2011.
The first teaser trailer was released on November 20, 2009 during the previews of New Moon. The 23-second teaser received reactions and comments from commercial sites. Annie Barrett of Entertainment Weekly remarks that "Alex Pettyfer is giving off more of a (Disney pretty-boy) Gaston vibe than the Beast here." A holographic poster was posted in some selected theaters before. The first official poster was then released in early April 2010. A featurette video which includes clips from the film was released in early February 2010. The full-length trailer premiered last April 19, 2010. There was a new trailer released in late 2010 featuring a new logo, the new date, and the song Broken Arrow by Pixie Lott.
CBS Films has announced that Beastly will have apparel and accessories, social expressions and gaming produced for the film's marketing. Among the products planned are proprietary and co-branded games and puzzles for release worldwide by Fundex; figures and bobbleheads worldwide by Bif Bang Pow!; costumes, masks and accessories for the US and Canada from Rubie’s; and video games worldwide from Storm City, among others. CBS Consumer Products has rallied a number of partners for movie-inspired merchandise.
Alliance Films, based in Montreal, will release the film in Canada under a deal done by Alliance and CBS Films. Sony Pictures will be handling all international distribution. It was earlier reported to have a July 30, 2010. But, a few weeks after Charlie St. Cloud moved to a July 30 release, CBS films released a statement saying that they will be moving Beastly because it will cause a "real dilemma" to some of the fans of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens' relationship, via Beastly's Official Facebook account. Eventually, they moved the film's release date to March 18, 2011 to avoid clashing with other films opening during the summer 2010. However, the reasons of moving the date vary. The new March 18 date comes four weeks after Pettyfer debuts in American cinema in I Am Number Four. This will introduce Pettyfer to the American audience, and three weeks before Hudgens' other movie Sucker Punch. Separately, CBS Films distribution head Steven Friedlandere explains, “There wasn’t much left in the summer that we could move it to. We didn’t want to go in fall, and the holidays are for four-quadrant movies. So we figured if we went to March, we’d have some school breaks happening around that time.” Due to a successful test screening, CBS Films decided to bump "Beastly" up to March 4, 2011.
It ranked #45 in The Times' 50 Biggest Movies Of 2010. Hudgens and Pettyfer are honored as ShoWest stars of tomorrow for their roles in Beastly. The film was screened at ShoWest and it drew enthusiastic reactions from the luncheon crowd of exhibition officials.