While the modern movie musical has been an unpredictable mixed bag (“Mamma Mia!” a hit, but retro “Rock Of Ages” and classic-feeling “Nine” flopped), it seems Hollywood still thinks there is money to be had. And they are hoping stage success can translate to movie audiences (though again, that didn’t mean a thing for “Rock Of Ages“).
While Brett Ratner threatened/hinted that “Wicked” was his “dream project” last year, the surprising choice ofStephen Daldry has been tapped by Universal to direct the movie version. Yet another revisionist/re-imagined take on a familiar tale, the show repositions the story of the L. Frank Baum literary classic “Wizard Of Oz” by telling it from the Wicked Witch’s POV. Of course, Disney has their own “Oz The Great And Powerful” on the way as well, so it seems there will be no shortage of ways to walk down the yellow brick road. Either way, it’s an interesting gear shift for Daldry, who has tended to prefer sober dramas, but it’s not entirely a foreign format: He was behind the successful stage adaptation of “Billy Elliot” so he can likely do the material justice. But it will certainly be a stylistic shift away from his previous films.
Meanwhile, Jon Favreau has graduated from frontrunner to being in negotiations to bring “Jersey Boys” to the big screen. The musical tells the tale of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, documenting the rise and fall of the successful 1960s rock ‘n’ roll group, one of the best-selling bands of all time, through their music, including tracks like “Beggin,” “December 1963 (Oh What A Night),” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” The project is set up over at GK Films who will partner with Columbia on the flick. Like Daldry, this doesn’t immediately register as something in his wheelhouse, but it seems to combine the buddy aspects of “Swingers” with the spectacle he’s shown in his blockbuster features, so he should be fine.
Both of these have had massive runs on Broadway, mulltiple productions mounted around the world and big followings. But will that mean success at the movies? Time will tell.