It looks like movie musicals are making a comeback in a big way. With the success of “La La Land,” “Mamma Mia” and its sequel, “Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again” (already over $250 million), the studios are following suit. “Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again” is the feel-good movie of the year. The Los Angeles Times devoted a front page of its Calendar section to say: “The sequel surpassed the original, no doubt thanks in part to the pairing of Cher and Andy Garcia. The young cast is beautiful and the old pros, that returned, really delivered.”
Disney will kick off its musical craze with the live action “Aladdin,” directed by Madonna’s former husband Guy Ritchie (due out May 24, 2019), then it will unleash the CGI and live action version of “The Lion King,” which will have Beyonce as Nala, Donald Glover as Simba, James Earl Jones as his father, Mufasa, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar (coming summer of 2019).
Then come December 2019 we’ll finally see the film version of the blockbuster Broadway show “Wicked.”
*** Elton John, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber will give us an animated “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and finally a film of Lloyd’s fourth-longestrunning show on Broadway, “Cats,” with Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, who sings the show-stopping “Memory.” The cast also will boast Taylor Swift, James Corden and Ian McKellen.
Lin-Manuel Miranda reacquired the rights to his 2008 Tony Award-winning hit show “In the Heights” from the Weinstein Company (at least something good came from that scandal) and will produce and star in the show. His mega Broadway hit “Hamilton” will be filmed and released to movie theaters, a rare event.
Disney will utilize the elements of its stage production of “The Little Mermaid” for a live-action film, and we also can expect a remake of the Oscar-winning best picture “Oliver,” with Ice Cube as Fagan and as producer, as well as a film of Eric Idol’s Tony Award-winning best musical “Spamalot.”
For those Carole King fans who missed “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” Tom Hanks has come to the rescue and will produce the film, which also will include many of her greatest songs from her songbook that were not in the original production.
And finally, casting calls are up for Steven Spielberg’s reboot of 10-time Oscar winner (including best picture) “West Side Story.” Even though the film had stars Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, Spielberg intends to use unknowns to re-create the magic of the 1961 film.
This is the first column I’ve ever written that you could hum songs from as you read it.