From Broadway and West End adaptations (Cats and Les Miserables) to productions written specifically for the big screen (The Greatest Showman and La La Land), movie musicals have seen a huge surge in popularity over recent years.
Whether it’s a guilty pleasure or something you’re not ashamed to proclaim your love for, sometimes there’s just nothing better than escapism via the medium of elaborately choreographed song and dance sequences.
This year, alone, sees a number of highly anticipated musicals hitting our screens, with many others currently in the pipeline. With the popularity of musicals (quite rightly) ever-growing, we’re taking a look at the most exciting releases coming this year and beyond.
1. In The Heights (7th August TBC)
If you’re a musical fan, then chances are you’ll know the name, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Before his fame grew exponentially via Broadway smash-hit Hamilton, Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes collaborated on the stage musical In The Heights. And this year, the movie adaptation is scheduled to hit the big screen.
Directed by Jon M. Chu, who scored a huge hit in 2018 with rom-com Crazy Rich Asians, and adapted for the screen by Hades, In The Heights centres on a young bodega owner named Usnavi who, after inheriting his grandmother’s fortune, must make a decision on whether to keep his store or retire to the Dominican Republic.
The story is set over the course of three days, and largely follows characters within the Hispanic-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. Miranda, who originated the role of Usnavi on stage, appears in a minor role, with Anthony Ramos stepping into his shoes in the leading role.
Ramos and Miranda are no strangers to working alongside each other, with Ramos having originated the dual roles of Philip Hamilton and John Laurens in Hamilton both on and off Broadway, and during their Broadway debut in July 2015.
Additional cast members include Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton) and Stephanie Beatriz (Short Term 12). With the stage show having been nominated for 13 Tony Awards and winning four, including 2008's Best Musical, they’ll be hoping to replicate this success for the big screen. And from the trailer alone, we believe that they might have a chance.
2. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (21st October TBC)
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has grown in popularity since first arriving on stage in Sheffield back in 2017. Inspired by the 2011 television documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, the musical follows the 16-year-old title character as he overcomes prejudice, defeats his enemies and faces his fears in order to become a drag queen.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie transferred from Sheffield to the West End in 2017, and went on to receive Best New Musical and Best Actor in a Musical at the WhatsOnStage Awards in 2018. A live version of the stage show was also broadcast into cinemas in summer 2018, helping to introduce the story to a brand new audience.
The film adaptation is directed by Jonathan Butterell in his feature debut, based on a screenplay by Tom MacRae. The lead role is played by newcomer Max Harwood, with a stellar supporting cast including Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Sharon Horgan (Military Wives) and Shobna Gulati (Coronation Street). At this time no trailer has been released for the film but we guarantee you’re in for a treat once it hits our screens.
3. West Side Story (18th December TBC)
Arguably the most highly anticipated musical release this year, Steven Spielberg’s take on the Oscar-winning 1961 classic West Side Story is scheduled for this winter. And a batch of arresting new images have just been released by Vanity Fair.
The original West Side Story was, itself, an adaptation of the popular Broadway production of the same name by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. The movie, directed by Robert Wise, catapulted actors like Natalie Wood to fame, and a number of the songs have also gone down in history, including the infectious, Puerto Rican-flavoured 'I Want To Be In America'.
Spielberg’s adaptation, scripted by Munich writer Tony Kushner, is expected to stick more closely to the Broadway script than the earlier film. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is set in 1950s New York City and follows teenagers Tony and Maria who fall in love despite being part of rival street gangs, the white Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks respectively.
In this adaptation, Tony is played by Ansel Elgort of The Fault in our Stars and Baby Driver fame, while newcomer Rachel Zegler steps into the shoes of Maria. At just 18 years old this is set to be Zegler’s first major role, but given what we’ve seen of her talents, surely she's more than capable of keeping up with those around her.
The 1961 film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 10, including the coveted Best Picture. This may seem like big shoes to fill, but given the talents of those onboard, we have every faith that Spielberg’s adaptation will be just as spectacular.
4. The Little Mermaid (2021 TBC)
Next on Disney’s growing list of live-action adaptations is The Little Mermaid. It's based on the 1989 animated story of mermaid Ariel, who dreams of becoming a human and falls in love with a prince.
With filming set to start imminently in London (it has, unfortunately, been disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic), more news is starting to trickle in about those who will be involved in the retelling, with young R&B singer Halle Bailey taking on the role of the iconic mermaid.
Despite rumours of Harry Styles flexing his acting muscles again in the role of Prince Eric, the part has ultimately gone to Jonah Hauer-King (A Dog’s Way Home), with Styles choosing to focus on his music career. Spy's Melissa McCarthy will star as Ariel's diabolical nemesis, the wicked sea witch Ursula.
Room's Jacob Tremblay is set to voice adorable fish Flounder, and Crazy Rich Asians' Awkwafina in talks to portray Scuttle. Behind the scenes, Rob Marshall is set to return to the Disney fold as director, having previously been at the helm of Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns, while composer Alan Menken will be returning to the territory that got him an Oscar all those years ago. In addition, he's writing brand new songs alongside none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda.
No date has been set for The Little Mermaid at this moment, but from what we’ve heard so far it looks set to be one of the most exciting live-action retellings to date.
5. Wicked (December 2021 TBC)
Inspired by The Wizard of Oz, Wicked is of the longest-running musicals on both Broadway and the West End, and a movie adaptation has been in talks for almost as long as we can remember.
Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Wicked tells the story of two unlikely friends Elphaba (the Wicked Witch) and Glinda (the Good Witch) and how they worked together against the corrupt Wizard.
Initially pencilled in for release in December 2019 by Universal, this date was instead claimed by Cats when Tom Hooper’s star-studded version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic made its way onto our screens last year.
A new date has been scheduled for December 2021, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for further information.
6. Little Shop of Horrors (TBC)
Just this year, The Hollywood Reporter announced that a remake of Little Shop of Horrors was in the works – you know, that cult musical about a geeky florist who discovers that his Venus flytrap can speak?
Based on the off-Broadway musical of the same name by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the original Little Shop of Horrors movie was released in 1986, with a cast including Ghostbusters' Rick Moranis and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' Steve Martin.
Warner Bros. Pictures are said to be developing the remake with Greg Berlanti (Love, Simon) directing. No casting has been confirmed at this time, but rumours point towards Rocketman's Taron Egerton as Seymour, Black Widow's Scarlett Johansson as the voice of man-eating plant Audrey, and Like a Boss's Billy Porter as the voice of Audrey II.
Another name recently thrown into the mix was fellow Avenger Chris Evans, who is reportedly in talks to play Dr. Scrivello. If that turns out to be true, our excitement levels will go through the roof.
Which one of the above movie musicals are you most excited about? Tweet us @Cineworld and be sure to check out West Side Story when it hits our screens on 18th December.
Hannah Dixon is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow her on Twitter.