Believe it or not, it took The Greatest Showman years to finally get off the ground. Hugh Jackman was announced for the role in 2009 and it didn’t start filming until the tail end of 2016. The actor said the reason for the delay was because studios didn’t want to take a risk on funneling funds towards an original movie musical. But with the age of “prestige TV” and what 20th Century Fox was able to do with Deadpool and Logan, Jackman said the film had finally been poised to hit theaters.
He told Collider at the New York press junket for The Greatest Showman:
“There’s been now for a while this belief and this commitment to giving people more than they expect, changing things up, taking some risk. The landscape in TV has been changing so rapidly and there’s such high quality – high-quality writing and acting – and that it’s inevitable. If we’re gonna convince people to go out to a cinema, we have to give them more than they’re gonna get at home.”
When you think of how much more difficult it is in Hollywood to get films with more diverse casts and stories off the ground, saying it’s hard to make a movie musical doesn’t seem like so much of an issue. However, the folks behind La La Land experienced similar pushback on the project before it inevitably scooped up Oscars.
Jackman stars as P.T. Barnum of the famed Barnum & Bailey Circus, singing and dancing along to songs written by the La La Land composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Zac Efron, Zendaya, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Tony winner Keala Settles also feature in the film, helmed by director Michael Gracey.