By Joanne Von Furstenburg | Posted on May 29, 2014 12:51 PM
There is a long, shared history between musical films and Broadway shows. The first musical films began to appear in the late 1920s, with Show Boat, Applause, and Animal Crackers, all of which were later adapted for the stage. Several decades later, Singin’ in the Rain was released onscreen in 1952, and was then adapted for the London stage in 1983, with its Broadway premiere in 1985. In 1964, Mary Poppins was released as a film, but it did not become a stage musical until 2004, when author P. L. Travers finally gave in and sold the stage rights. Adaptations in the reverse direction are even more common. West Side Story premiered on Broadway in 1957, with a film adaptation following in 1961. The Sound of Music opened on stage in 1959 followed by a 1965 film release. This is in addition to musicals based off of non-musical films, whose creators never imagined the stage possibilities of the material at the time of making them. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in Hollywood interest in Broadway musicals. This is due in part to the efforts of producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who were responsible for the movie versions of Chicago in 2002, The Music Man in 2003, Hairspray in 2007, Footloose in 2011, as well as the television show Smash in 2012. Other notable films based off of Broadway musicals include Rent and The Producers in 2005, Mamma Mia! in 2008, and Rock of Ages and Les Misérables in 2012. In fact, it has become somewhat of a measure of success for Broadway musicals to decide to pursue the film rights that will have generally come along with their original option agreement.
With a growing audience interest in these types of films, more and more shows are beginning to take the step towards the screen. In 2014, there will be three major releases of musical films. Jersey Boys, based off of the 2005 jukebox Broadway musical featuring music by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, will be released by Warner Bros. on June 20, 2014. Annie, produced by Jay-Z and Will Smith, will hit theaters on December 19, 2014, starring Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, and Quvenzhané Wallis (Academy Award nominee for her break-out role in Beasts of the Southern Wild). Finally, Rob Marshall’s direction of James Lapine’s screenplay based off his and Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods will come out on Christmas Day, 2014, with an all-star cast including Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Emily Blunt, and James Corden (Tony winner for One Man, Two Guvnors). Yet this is not all. Films that have already completed production and are presently awaiting distribution include The Last Five Years starring Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick, as well as Lucky Stiff starring Jason Alexander and Nikki M. James (Tony Award winner for The Book of Mormon). There is also a substantial list of musical films presently in development.
These include Damn Yankees starring Jim Carrey and Jake Gyllenhaal, The Drowsy Chaperone starring Geoffrey Rush and Hugh Jackman, Guys and Dolls starring Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Little Shop of Horrors also starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gypsy starring Barbra Streisand, My Fair Lady starring Colin Firth and Carey Mulligan, and South Pacific starring Hugh Jackman, Justin Timberlake, and Michelle Williams. Finally, the following films are in development, but have not yet announced any casting: 13, American Idiot, Cats, In The Heights, Jekyll & Hyde, an animated version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, London Road, Memphis, Miss Saigon, Oliver!, Spring Awakening, West Side Story, and Wicked.