Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s Hamilton is about to take home a whole host of Tonys, but before Ham came along to bless your life, there was In the Heights, Miranda’s first Tony-award winning break-out Broadway musical about a bodega owner conflicted about closing his store and returning to his roots in the Dominican Republic after inheriting his mother’s fortune. We recently learned that The Weinstein Co. picked up the rights to the celebrated musical, and as you might expect considering Miranda’s current world domination, the production company is moving full-speed ahead.
Today, THR reports that G.I. Joe Resurgence helmer Jon Chu is in talks to direct the adaptation. As a director, Chu is no stranger to embedding his films with music and theatricality. He got his feature film debut with Step Up 2 The Streets and the follow-up Step Up 3D before helming Justin Bieber‘s concert documentary Never Say Never. He even brought that sensibility to his We the Economy segment Supply & Dance, Man! Chu’s latest film, Now You See Me 2, arrives in theaters today, and centered around a troupe of the world’s most skilled magicians it has a pretty prominent air of, you guessed it, theatricality. Basically, Chu makes a lot of sense and In the Heights is exactly the kind of film to show off what he does best. Or maybe this is just the best way he could think of to get tickets to Hamilton before Miranda reportedly exits the show next month (No, I’m not crying, it’s totally fine).
In the Heights was originally set up at Universal with Kenny Ortega on board to direct. When Ortega’s proposed budget of $37 million was deemed to hefty a fee (this was pre-Hamilton, I’ll remind you) they let the project go. Now, The Weinstein Co. is hoping to make the film for around a $15 million price tag, and as you might expect given Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s current pop culture saturation, the studio seems intent on making this a top priority.
In the Heights earned Miranda four Tonys back in 2008 (it was nominated for thirteen), including Best Musical and Best Original Score, and a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album. Set in a largely Dominican neighborhood of Manhattan’s Washington Heights, the musical follows narrator Usnavi as he struggles with the idea of shutting down his bodega shop and returning to his roots in the Dominican Republic. Miranda originated the role of Usnavi in the Broadway production, though he hasn’t yet decided if he’ll return to the role for the film or cast a younger actor.
However, Miranda will produce the In the Heights adaptation, along with theater and film veteran Scott Sanders (Evita) and Scott Sanders Productions’ Mara Jacobs. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes, who wrote the book for the original stage show, is on board to pen the script for Weinstein Co. (Serendipity‘s Marc Klien wrote the Universal draft).