News concerning two highly anticipated movie musicals has landed online. First up, Jon Favreau was reported as being the frontrunner to take the helm on producer Graham King’s feature film adaptation of the smash hit stage musical Jersey Boys early last month. Now Deadline reports that Favreau has officially entered negotiations to bring the show to the big screen, and he actually seems like an inspired choice. For those unaware, the documentary-style musical tells the story of The Four Seasons, chronicling the group’s rise in the 1960s with such hits as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man.” It’s a ridiculously crowd-pleasing show but it’s also realistic and candid as far as the portrayal of the group’s ups and downs go.
John Logan (Hugo) wrote the latest draft of Jersey Boys and the film is a high prirority for GK Films. Favreau is also developing Magic Kingdom and Disney, but I’d imagine Jersey Boys will likely be his next feature. Hit the jump for news concerning the feature film iteration of Wicked.
In her spare time, Disney animator Heidi Jo Gilbert put together a sensational animated storyboard to pitch her studio and composer Stephen Schwartz on an animated adaptation of the Broadway musical Wicked. For those unfamiliar with the musical, it’s based on the book by Gregory Maguire and takes a look at The Wizard of Oz from the Wicked Witch’s perspective.
Gilbert took arguably the musical’s best number, “Defying Gravity”, and transformed it into what could have been a rousing animated sequence. Unfortunately for Ms. Gilbert and for all of us, I believe that Universal currently holds the screen rights to Wicked (as the project languishes in development hell looking for a director). Hit the jump to defy gravity in animated form.
Johnny Depp is looking to star in a remake/re-adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man and he wants his Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides director Rob Marshall to direct. The Thin Man centers on private detective-turned-socialite Nick Charles and his charming wife Nora as they’re drawn into investigating a murder. While I’m sure Depp would have a ball playing the gleefully drunk Nick, he wouldn’t be able to steal scenes like he does as Jack Sparrow. The Thin Man requires a charming interplay between the leads like William Powell and Myrna Loy were able to pull off when the book was first adapted in 1934.
Vulture also reports that while Depp may want Marshall to direct, The Thin Man currently has no script, and that Marshall is interested in helming the adaptation of the stage play Wicked for Universal. Marshall’s name was first mentioned as a possible director for the film back in July along with J.J. Abrams, James Mangold, and Ryan Murphy. Of those four candidates, Marshall would definitely be my top choice. However, a Thin Man starring Johnny Depp also sounds like plenty of fun.
The creative minds of the wildly successful Broadway show Wicked — producer Marc Platt, playwright Winnie Holzman, and songwriter Stephen Schwartz — have been meeting with some of Hollywood’s premier musical directors… and J.J. Abrams. The play, itself an adaptation of the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from L. Frank Baum’s classic Wizard of Oz and casts the emerald-skinned enchantress in a far more heroic light than the original story.
While Abrams’ composition of the 17-second opening theme to LOST may not qualify him as a musical director, the other candidates (James Mangold, Ryan Murphy, and Rob Marshall) have much stronger resumes. Mangold provided deft directing to Walk the Line, Murphy created Glee (but also Nip/Tuck), and Marshall was behind the camera for Chicago, the film often cited (along with Moulin Rouge!) for bringing musicals back into Hollywood’s good graces. For more, hit the jump.
Everyone is off to see the Wizard these days. Drew Barrymore is the latest to throw on a pair of ruby slippers as Pajiba reports that she’ll make Surrender Dorothy as the follow-up to her directorial debut, Whip It. First announced in 2002, Barrymore was then attached to star in the Wizard of Oz-inspired flick that Zach Helm (Stranger Than Fiction) wrote. The actress/producer/director was originally going to play “the great, great granddaughter of Dorothy who has to learn how to use the power of those ruby red slippers to keep the Wicked Witch of the West from taking control of the kingdoms of Earth and Oz.” But now that Barrymore is eight years older, I wonder if she’s going to take another role or just stick to directing/producing the film.
I liked Whip It although I think Barrymore should have given the film a harder edge. Hit the jump to learn about the other Wizard of Oz-based movies currently in development.
Director Sam Mendes may direct Oz The Great and Powerful with Robert Downey Jr. in talks to play the Wizard. Production Weekly tweets that the two are circling the project written by Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards). According to a 24 Frames article last month [via Pajiba's Twitter], the project (originally titled Brick), is, “based on pieces from several other L. Frank Baum “Oz” books as well as his original ideas. In this version, the wizard is a charlatan who’s part of a traveling circus but goes on a similar odyssey as Dorothy when he mysteriously lands in Oz. This Wizard of Oz project is set up at Disney and is competing against two projects at Warner Bros. (Oz, and a second project about Dorthy’s granddaughter who returns to Oz to fight evil) and Universal’s adaptation of the musical Wicked.
Mendes now has free time after Bond 23 was put on ice, although he may go back to do an adaptation of the comic book Preacher. As for Downey, he’s set for Sherlock Holmes 2 and may star in Alfonso Cuaron’s sci-fi film Gravity.
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland continues to rake it fat stacks of cash, so it’s only natural that the film’s screenwriter Linda Woolverton would once again team with Disney. This time, the classic tale is that of Sleeping Beauty, or rather, the 1959 animated Sleeping Beauty‘s villain, the evil queen Maleficent. The plan is to make a live-action adaptation where the Sleeping Beauty story would be told from Maleficent’s perspective. Heat Vision explains that it would be “offering a new take on a classic tale as she did with Lewis Carrol’s Alice.” I take that to mean the original tale is good where as her new take would be bad.
As much as I ragged on Burton’s creative stagnation in my review, I feel that the larger culprit was Woolverton’s script and crafting Alice as a borderline inert protagonist who’s shepherded by various characters for stakes she doesn’t even think are real for most of the movie. Granted, Woolverton also wrote better Disney films like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. And if in doubt on this project, she can look over to Wicked, which is also a classic tale told from the villain’s perspective.
As for whether Tim Burton will reunite with Woolverton, Heat Vision confirms Aint It Cool’s report from January that it’s one of the projects the director is circling.
For more details on the character Maleficent, hit the jump.
Variety is reporting that director/choreographer Kenny Ortega (High School Musical, This is It) will now helm the big screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, In the Heights, after leaving the planned Footloose remake earlier this year. The musical covers three days in the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, “where a bodega owner who inherited his grandfather’s lottery windfall plots his retirement to a Dominican Republic beach. As he bids farewell to his customers on the block, he becomes conflicted about leaving behind a group that has become family.” Lin-Manuel Miranda will reprise his starring role (he also wrote the lyrics and music) and Quiara Alegria Hudes, who wrote the show, will be adapting the script to the screen.
Universal will be producing the film and I have to give them some credit for not deciding to replace Miranda with a big name star. The film is part of Universal’s plan to make more musicals after the success that they have had recently at the box office with such films as Mamma Mia! and Hairspray. The studio is currently moving ahead with their big screen adaptation of Wicked, their plans to make a sequel to Mama Mia!, and have also recently hired composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray) to create a musical based on a soon to be launched Mattel toyline that “aspires to add a new twist to monster lore.”
Thanks to the success of “Twilight” it looks like we are going to get a couple of adaptations of other successful book series which are aimed at the young-adult crowd. Most of these will be pitched as “It’s like Twilight meets…” and the latest book series that is on its way to the big screen, “Wicked”, is being sold as that. The project is being described as “‘Twilight’ meets ‘Wanted’ with witchcraft” and will probably become a franchise at DreamWorks. Also, Steven Spielberg might jump in on this book series craze by maybe directing an adaptation of “The 39 Clues”. You can get all the details after the jump.