The last word on this, in June, was that Brit actress/writer Emma Thompson was “in contention” to pen the screenplay of the updated adaptation of the Broadway classic musical Annie, with Willow Smith in the title role, and poppa and momma Smith producing under their Overbrook Entertainment banner, in a joint venture with Jay-Z, who will also produce the soundtrack for the film.
Prior to that news, Glee creator, Ryan Murphy, dropped out of contention for the writing/directing job, despite being poppa Smith’s top choice for the gig.
Well, 2 months later, Murphy himself confirms that Emma Thompson is no longer “in contention” and actually has been hired to pen the screenplay, though it doesn’t look like she’ll also direct.
Murphy let the news slip, telling Deadline:
“They are doing a movie version and I loved the idea that Jay Z was going to do the music. I met with Jay and talked to him about it. I wanted to write the script and direct it. And then (Murphy’s new TV project) American Horror got picked up and Willow is a certain age and you need a script by November. I didn’t think I could do it. So now she’s (Pinkett Smith) got Emma Thompson, who is 50 million times better than me. Love her. I wish I could have had the time to do it. The thing that was the biggest turn on for me was Jay. We talked about how we were going to set it (Annie) in Detroit.”
So, we learn a few things from that quote: First, yes, Emma Thompson is onboard; second, they want a script delivered by November, which means that this could be going in front of cameras sooner than we think; and lastly, they are setting the story in Detroit, Michigan. The original took place in New York City I believe.
No director has officially been attached yet.
Thompson’s credits are impressive – nominated multiple times for Academy Awards, winning twice in the 1990s – one for Best Actress in 1992 for her performance in Howards End, and the other for Best Adapted Screenplay for penning the Sense and Sensibility script in 1995.