The movie musicals we'll all be singing to over the next few years
From 'Mary Poppins Returns' to 'Vox Lux,' these upcoming musicals aim to hit all the right notes.
Hollywood's renewed love affair with the musical genre is about to have a very big second act.
Fresh off wild critical and fan applause for such films as "La La Land," "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Greatest Showman," studios are busy recruiting triple-threat actors for roles in original and reboots of classic musicals.
"Right now, it’s just really exciting," Benj Pasek, co-songwriter for "The Greatest Showman," told Deadline. "There is a sense that musicals are not completely uncool. People are willing to invest in that kind of storytelling; in that kind of journey, as an audience. For however long that lasts, it’s a really exciting ride to be on."
Check out the handful of singing, dancing blockbusters that Hollywood has planned to keep the ride rolling on for the next several years.
'Mary Poppins Returns' (December 2018)
Directed by American filmmaker Rob Marshall, "Mary Poppins Returns" is the highly anticipated sequel to the classic 1964 film. Set in London in the 1930s, some 24 years after the events of the original, it features an all-star cast that includes British actress Emily Blunt, American legend Meryl Streep and "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
According to Miranda, who contributed some original songs for the musical, the score is a "love letter" to the genius of the original's catchy, beautiful music. "The orchestrations are massive, and they’ve captured the spirit of it so well," he told Entertainment Weekly. "It’s whimsical when it needs to be whimsical with this undercurrent of sadness, but insanely catchy. It’s got that aftertaste of melancholy when it needs it, and it’s really lovely. When I heard it, I got really excited, because this is not some quote-unquote ‘modern’ Poppins. This just is the next movie.”
We're just keeping our fingers crossed for a modern remix of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." In the meantime, keep those magic umbrellas handy and prepare for "Mary Poppins Returns" to glide into theaters on Dec. 25, 2018.
'Vox Lux' (Early 2019)
Natalie Portman will star in 'Vox Lux' about a pop star who comes to success as a result of 'unusual circumstances.' (Photo: Andreas Rentz / Getty Images)
Directed by American filmmaker and actor Brady Corbet, "Vox Lux" is a musical drama that follows the rise of a pop star named "Celeste" from 1999 to the present day. In addition to a stellar cast featuring Israeli-American Natalie Portman in the lead role and British star Jude Law in a supporting role, the film will also feature original music crafted by the brilliant (and eclectic) Australian singer Sia.
“I don’t think Brady is of this century," film producer Andrew Lauren said of Corbet. "His work is more reminiscent of a Sergei Eisenstein or Fritz Lang. When you sit with him, his encyclopedic knowledge of film is intimidating and his passion is infectious."
As for those wondering if Portman will be able to hit all the right notes, let's not forget that this isn't the first time the Harvard grad has partnered with Sia on something musical. Back in 2016, Portman, Sia and talk show host Jimmy Fallon teamed up to perform a cover of the classic song "Iko Iko." There's also the raps the Oscar winner has participated in for "Saturday Night Live," and even early footage from her musical days in high school.
"Vox Lux" is likely to hit theaters in early 2019.
'Wicked' (December 2019)
The only other Broadway production besides "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Lion King" to cross the $1 billion in total revenue mark, "Wicked" will finally make the leap to the silver screen in 2019. While casting for the leads of the Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, has yet to be announced, we do know that Oscar-nominated British filmmaker Stephen Daldry is attached to direct. "Wicked" composer Stephen Schwartz and screenwriter Winnie Holzman will co-write the script.
In an interview with Variety last year, Schwartz said that fans of the original Broadway production should look forward to a fresh re-telling of "Wicked's" beloved storyline.
"There are things that work on stage but won’t work on film," he said, adding that the movie version would include at least four new songs. "In order to do something that will work on its own merits, you have to do something different. The only concern is people who would be coming expecting to see a filmed version of the play. They’re not going to see that."
"Wicked" is slated to "defy gravity" (and likely box office records) when it hits theaters on Dec. 20, 2019.
'Anna and the Apocalypse' (December 2018)
Zombies and musicals, together at last.
Directed by Scottish filmmaker John McPhail, "Anna and the Apocalypse" tells the heartwarming tale of high school friends who must fight, sing and dance their way through both the holiday season and the zombie apocalypse. It will be up to audiences to decide which is more horrifying.
"It was always about the story," McPhail told Slashfilm. "It was always about the characters. The musical aspect just helps show the depth and their growth, their plight. Where they’re going, which way are they coming from and where they want to go. The horror aspect of it is just part of the story. It’s part of our zombie apocalypse."
Advance reaction to "Anna" has been overwhelmingly positive, with film critic Andrew Todd praising it as "a bloody, toe-tapping, good-time frolic delivered with such un-zombie-like joie de vivre that it's impossible not to get infected yourself." After a successful premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, last September, the film was picked up by Orion Pictures. The current plan is unleash this tap-dancing undead musical to North American audiences sometime during the 2018 holiday season.
'Bohemian Rhapsody' (2018)
Helmed by British director Dexter Fletcher and Arnon Milchan, a prolific film producer from Israel, "Bohemian Rhapsody" will delve into the history of British singer Freddie Mercury and the rise of his legendary rock band Queen.
Taking on the role of Mercury is Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek. The "Mr. Robot" star, who also lent his voice and digital likeness to the horror game "Until Dawn," confirmed that he not only recorded vocals at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London, but also received advice from Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May.
"I could have my Beyonce moment," Malek quipped to American talk show host Stephen Colbert.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" is expected to rock us on Dec. 25, 2018.
'West Side Story' (2020)
While not expected to bow in theaters until 2020 at the earliest, casting for the film reboot of the classic musical "West Side Story" is very much underway. Directed by legendary American filmmaker Steven Spielberg, with a script written by "Lincoln" screenwriter Tony Kushner, the film will likely follow the same "Romeo and Juliet"-inspired storyline of the original. Even more intriguing? Spielberg is interested in seeing fresh faces, including those who may have never acted in a Hollywood production before. Check out the casting notice that went out over social media below.
Think you might have the singing and dancing background to make "West Side Story" shine? This could be your big moment. For the rest of us, expect to see the Sharks and Jets go toe-to-toe, as well as hear the magic of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's music, once more on the silver screen sometime in 2020.
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