Hollywood has a long history of taking Broadway musicals and turning them into blockbuster movies (West Side Story, Oliver!, Cabaret, etc.), and lately it seems that Broadway has been returning the favor, turning films into staged musicals (The Producers, Hairspray, Ghost, A Christmas Story, etc.) Now with the success of Les Miserables, which is nominated for "Best Picture" at this year's Academy Awards, is Tinseltown ready to greenlight other musicals for the big screen?
There was an interesting article in TheWrap.com about efforts to bring the musical version of Jekyll and Hyde to movie theaters. A limited engagement stage production of the show is set to run on Broadway this April starring American Idol personality Constantine Maroulis (who was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Rock of Ages). The songs and score are terrific, so with the right cast (Hugh Jackman, anyone?) and the right director, people might forget the cheesiness of the previous big staged versions with David Hasselhoff, Jack Wagner, and Sebastian Bach in the title role. It might really work for the movie-going crowd. Then again, I had high expectations for the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera, and Joel Shumacher's motion picture turned out to be a complete mess.
Some musicals are already in the works, but now might be pushed along to a faster production schedule. Wicked, for example, has long been in development, with Stephen Daldry set to direct. He's the guy who gave us Billy Elliott, The Hours, The Reader, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Director Rob Marshall has been attached to bring Into the Woods to the cinema, with Meryll Streep rumored for the part of the Witch. Streep has had musical experience, starring in the screen version of Mama Mia, and Marshall has directed the TV version of Annie starring Victor Garber, Kathy Bates, Alan Cumming, Audra McDonald, and Kristin Chenoweth, as well as the films Chicago, Nine, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. What might help Wicked and Into Woods see the light of day on the silver screen is the fact that they are riding two simultaneous trends -- the popularity of fairy tales in pop culture and the critical and financial success of a movie musical like Les Miserables.
Other movies that have lingered in development hell might also finally climb over the hump and become a reality. For example, director Jon Favreau has been linked with a big screen version of Jersey Boys and actor Jim Carey had wanted to do a new film version of Damn Yankees for a long time. Maybe we'll finally see Clint Easwood's take on A Star Is Born or Carey Mulligan in My Fair Lady.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker have had some luck bringing their stories to the big screen, so it's only a matter of time before we see a film version of The Book of Mormon. How much longer will we have to wait to see the movies of Spring Awakening, American Idiot, and Sunset Boulevard: The Musical? Other movie musicals have been talked about, such as Bat Boy, Carousel, a new South Pacific, Miss Saigon, Follies, and The Color Purple: The Musical. Will we see any of them anytime soon?
I'm predicting that we'll be seeing a lot more movie musicals in the near future. Whether or not they will be any good remains to seen. Will they flop like Tom Cruise's recent adaptation of Rock of Ages or will they achieve Chicago level success? What about all the musicals that deserve a big screen reboot, such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin, Godspell, and so on? I suppose that's an essay for another day.
Welcome to the online journal of Nick Leshi, his official daily blog about pop culture and the wide world of entertainment in all media. Nick Leshi is a writer, actor, media professional, and aficionado of entertainment. Contact him at email@example.com (or search for him on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google+, and LinkedIn)
In The Pale Moonlight: YEAR WALK Review
In Swedish folklore, the Year Walk was an ancient and mysterious vision quest embarked upon by those who wished to peer into the future, sometimes against al...