To the delight of theater fans everywhere, the movie musical renaissance is in full effect. With Broadway’s recent resurgence in film, Hollywood is green-lighting a wide variety of musicals to receive the cinematic treatment. From remakes of classic stories to new adaptations of contemporary productions, here are the movie musicals we can’t wait to see on the big screen.
PREMIERING IN 2020
In the Heights
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights is the first to hit screens in 2020. This piece, beloved by fans and critics alike, follows the residents of Washington Heights, a Manhattan neighborhood under the threat of disappearing. Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu will helm the Warner Bros.-produced film, with a screenplay by the musical’s original book writer, Quiara Alegría Hudes. The cast includes a mix of stage and screen favorites, featuring Anthony Ramos (Usnavi), Melissa Barrera (Vanessa), Stephanie Beatriz (Carla), Gregory Diaz IV (Sonny), Leslie Grace (Nina), Corey Hawkins (Benny), Olga Merediz (Abuela Claudia), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Daniela), and more. If the name alone doesn’t get you excited, the trailer will have you counting down the days until the June 26* release date.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
This British musical debuted on the West End in 2017 and immediately captured audiences’ hearts, as well as five Olivier Award nominations. The stage production is based on a documentary about a teenage drag queen, so it’s no surprise producers have been quick to translate it into film. The musical, created by playwright Tom MacRae and The Feeling lead singer Dan Gillespie, tells the story of a gay teenager who overcomes the weight of bullying by embracing the world of drag. Jonathan Butterell is set to direct, with newcomer Max Harwood in the titular role. Joining him will be Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant (Hugo), Sharon Horgan (Miss Hedge), and Sarah Lancashire (Margaret New). You can look forward to seeing it in theatres October 23.
West Side Story
Something’s coming, and we have a feeling it’ll be something good. Steven Spielberg’s take on Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents’s classic musical will be hitting the big screen December 18. Tackling the iconic lead roles of Tony and Maria are seasoned film actor Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zelger, who has already become an internet favorite. The supporting cast is full of theater stars, such as Ariana Debose (Anita), David Alvarez (Bernardo), Mike Fast (Riff), Brian D’Arcy James (Police Sergeant Krupke), and Rita Moreno (Valentina). Filmed on location in New York City this past summer, and featuring a script by Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner, this timeless story of star-crossed lovers is certain to once again sweep audiences off their feet.
The Broadway production of The Prom won over New York audiences in 2018, and with the help of Netflix, it will bring its charm to viewers worldwide in 2020. Ryan Murphy, who is no stranger to the musical genre thanks to his work on Glee, will direct the adaptation, with a screenplay by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin. The Prom tells a poignant story about four Broadway performers who intervene when a high school student in a conservative Indiana town is banned from taking her girlfriend to the prom. The film has attracted a star-studded cast, including James Corden (Barry Glickman), Ariana DeBose (Alyssa), Keegan-Michael Key (Mr. Hawkins), Nicole Kidman (Angie Dickinson), Jo Ellen Pellman (Emma), Andrew Rannells (Trent Oliver), Meryl Streep (Dee Dee Allen), and Kerry Washington.
Tick, Tick … Boom!
The Prom isn’t the only musical that Netflix plans to add to its roster: Tick, Tick … Boom!, Jonathan Larson’s semiautobiographical musical, has just begun filming and will premiere on the streaming platform. Making his directorial debut, Lin-Manuel Miranda will help bring this story about an aspiring composer in New York City to. The screenplay is penned by Dear Evan Hansen and Fosse/Verdon writer Steven Levenson. We can’t wait to have this musical made accessible via film, especially with the incredible lineup of actors involved. Taking on Larson’s story are Andrew Garfield (Jon), Robin de Jesús (Michael), Joshua Henry (Roger), Vanessa Hudgens (Karessa), Judith Light (Rosa Stevens), Alexandra Shipp (Susan), and Bradley Whitford (Stephen Sondheim).
The Little Mermaid
Of course Disney, famous for its movie musicals, also has an adaptation lined up. Along with Lucamar Productions and Marc Platt Productions, Disney plans to remake another one of their classic animated princess stories, The Little Mermaid, into a live-action film. Stepping into the role of Ariel, the iconic red–haired mermaid who yearns to be a part of the world above the sea, is actress and singer Halle Bailey. Rob Marshall will direct, and David Magee will write the screenplay. The film will feature all of your old favorite songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as some new tunes made with the help of Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Netflix is really interested in stories about teenagers in small-town Indiana. An adaptation of the musical 13, which premiered on Broadway in 2007, is also among the platform’s slate of upcoming movie musicals. With a score by composer Jason Robert Brown and a screenplay by Robert Horn, this musical follows a teen who makes the jump from big-city life in New York to navigating the social scene in his new small-town school. Tamara Davis will direct, with casting to be announced.
The projects listed above are the movie musicals currently in production or in preproduction, but there are so many more that are either in the works or slated for future development.
HBO has green-lit a production of American Idiot, which will star Green Day’s lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, who stepped into the show during its Broadway run. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, has been picked up by Sony Pictures for a film adaptation, which will be directed by Douglas McGrath and will include Tom Hanks as a producer.
The Warner Bros. remake of Little Shop of Horrors is also gaining buzz right now for its rumored high-profile casting of Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, and Chris Evans. The adaptation of the classic musical will be directed by Greg Berlanti, and will feature a screenplay by Matthew Robinson. Another classic movie musical remake, Gypsy, has Hollywood heavyweight Amy Sherman-Palladino on board to direct.
Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Webber are teaming up to bring to the screen a new animated version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The British musicians’ respective production companies will work with STX Motion Pictures to reimagine this Biblical musical with a pop score.
Tony Award-winning director Casey Nicholaw will helm an adaptation of Spamalot, with original book writer Eric Idle adapting the script. Mean Girls — which Nicholaw directed on Broadway — will return to its cinematic roots, this time in its musical form. Tina Fey will once again helm the screenplay.
Other notable movie musicals in the works are Bare, Be More Chill, The Color Purple, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Lysistrata Jones, Matilda, Follies, Pippin, and Sunset Boulevard.
*Updated April 22, 2020: The release of In The Heights has been postponed to June 18, 2021. Read more here.
Last updated and effective as of January 14, 2019
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