Ariana Grande & John Legend's 'Beauty and the Beast' Music Video: Director Dave Meyers Goes Behind the Scenes

For director Dave Meyers, the news that a studio wants to include movie footage in a music video usually signifies “the death of a good music video,” he says.

But when Disney decided to add scenes from its new live action version of Beauty and the Beast into his video for Ariana Grande and John Legend’s remake of the classic title song, Meyers knew it would add to the magic, not detract. Plus, after 10 years of collaborating with Disney on such clips as Avril Lavigne’s “Alice” from Alice in Wonderland and Pink’s “Just Like Fire” from Alice Through The Looking Glass, he had implicit trust in their partnership.

The lush, romantic clip, released earlier this week, features Grande and Legend in a majestic, chandelier-filled ballroom. As Legend sits at the piano, Grande sings surrounded by graceful dancers dressed as rose petals, symbolizing the dying flower in the movie that ticks off the days until the Prince is doomed to remain a beast for the rest of his life. As Legend and Grande perform, the beast/Prince, played by Dan Stevens, and the beauty/Belle, portrayed by Emma Watson, dance elegantly, wrapped in each other’s arms.

“The song is a classic. Whether you think of Celine Dion’s version [from the 1991 animated film] ] or this one, you think of the ballroom scene,” Meyers tells Billboard. Including the film footage was “an artistic way of checking a few boxes. Disney will see its footage and fans of Ariana and John will see them and it’s all integrated.”

Meyers’ first step was to watch the movie’s ballroom scene “to see if there was enough footage to repurpose and put in the video,” he says. With the available movie footage dictating how he would build the rest of the clip, Meyers knew he wanted to have Legend at the piano, “which gives weight to his performance.” Once that was established, “Ariana was floating out there without much to do,” he says, so he developed the idea of the rose dance to center her appearance before she and Legend come together at the piano. “They gave their two performances and that’s juxtaposed with the beauty and the beast,” he says. Walt Disney Studios president of music and soundtracks, Mitchell Lieb, signed off on the concept, even though Meyers admits his ideas “blew the budget out of the water…Mitchell supported me every step of the way. He’s just a wonderful partner.”

Complicating matters, Grande and Legend’s schedules did not allow them to shoot their scenes together. In fact, their time was so tight, that Meyers got only half a day with each performer. Grande’s scenes were shot on a stage. “We built a big set that mirrors the ballroom,” Meyers says. Legend’s performance was shot in front of a green screen and layered into the video, as were the Prince and Belle.

Two weeks of technical prep preceded the shoots with Grande and Legend, which were followed by a month in post production combining all the elements. “When we got the first edit, you could see it was going to work,” Meyers says. “The post process was very exciting. Every rendition made it look more and more real.”

The final result is a clip where it looks as though Belle, the Prince, Grande and Legend are seamlessly sharing the same dance floor.

Directing Grande and Legend for the first time was a great experience, Meyers says, lauding their professionalism. “Seeing Ariana come out in that red dress and embody a princess and John, a Grammy and Oscar winner, there’s an awe,” he says. “There’s an X factor that’s in the room when you film them. There’s something ‘wow’ about their essence.”

Similarly, the director has nothing but praise for Disney. “Disney never makes me feel like the video is just commerce. There’s a great respect for the medium,” he says, adding that he sees the videos as their own “installations” and stand-alone pieces of  intellectual property for Disney, as opposed to “whored-out visuals. This is a beautiful offering. [Disney] put John and Ariana together and then they’re also sent invitations into the Disney world.”

Beauty and the Beast, directed by Bill Condon, opens March 17 and tracking suggests the film could reach $120 million in its opening weekend.

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Hear Celine Dion sing new Beauty and the Beast song ‘How Does A Moment Last Forever’

How does a moment last forever? How can a story never die? And how can you have a Beauty and the Beast movie without a Celine Dion power ballad?

With the new live-action Beauty and the Beast just a week away from hitting theaters, Disney has released the official soundtrack for the new film. Not only does the album include the entire film soundtrack — sung by Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, and more — but it also has three brand-new recordings that play over the final credits: Ariana Grande and John Legend’s version of “Beauty and the Beast,” Josh Groban’s ballad “Evermore,” and Celine Dion’s recording of the new song “How Does A Moment Last Forever.”

It’s been more than 25 years since Dion first recorded the title track for the 1991 animated movie with Peabo Bryson. In the film, Angela Lansbury sings “Beauty and the Beast,” but Bryson and Dion’s alternate version was a radio smash, earning Dion her first-ever Grammy Award (for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal).

For the live-action remake, Grande and Legend took on the iconic duet, while Dion tackled one of the film’s brand-new songs. Alan Menken composed the music for the original animated Beauty and the Beast, and he wrote three additional songs for the new film, including “How Does A Moment Last Forever.” (Menken’s writing partner Howard Ashman, who wrote the lyrics for the animated film, died of AIDS-related complications before the original film was released. Disney veteran Tim Rice penned the lyrics for the new songs in the live-action version.)

Listen to Dion’s version above. Beauty and the Beast will open in theaters on March 17, and the soundtrack is available to stream or purchase now.

'Beauty and the Beast' 2017 Soundtrack Stream & Download - Listen Now!

The complete soundtrack for the new live-action version of Beauty and the Beast has been released and you can listen to every song right here!

The deluxe edition of the soundtrack includes Celine Dion‘s version of “How Does a Moment Last Forever,” Ariana Grande and John Legend‘s rendition of the classic “Beauty and the Beast,” and Josh Groban‘s version of the new song “Evermore.”

You of course also get to hear cast members Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (The Beast), Luke Evans (Gaston), Josh Gad (Le Fou), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), and more put their own spin on the songs from the original film, as well as some new numbers written for the movie.

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