UPDATE: The first image has arrived from Rob Marshall’s screen adaptation of Sondheim musical “Into the Woods.” As first looks go, this is a great one: Meryl Streep as The Witch, with claws and all, who wishes to reverse a curse so that her beauty can be restored.
EARLIER: Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece “Into the Woods” has headed into production. The film, which Disney has slated for December 25, 2014 release, includes an all-new song, written by Sondheim. Besides Streep (as the Witch), the cast includes Johnny Depp (as the Wolf), Anna Kendrick (as Cinderella), Emily Blunt (in the lead female role of the Baker’s Wife), Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal (as princes) and James Corden (as the Baker).
In this fairytale, the evil witch (Streep) casts a spell on an unfortunate baker (Corden) and his wife (Blunt); they want a child, so they venture into the woods to try and negotiate with the witch.
The only danger here is for Marshall’s film version is that he’s a big-spender; the period movie looks expensive. David Krane (“Chicago,” “Nine”) is writing original music for the film, while James Lapine has adapted his book for the musical. Marshall’s producer for “Chicago” and “Nine” will do the producing honors.
Count me as a diehard musicals fan, and that includes Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd,” starring Depp as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. More recently, “Les Miserables” proved that even a sincere movie musical with its heart on it sleeve can score at the global box office.
There’s a raft of Broadway to movie musicals in the works. And I love the would-be casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who danced on the ceiling on Saturday Night Live) and “Step Up” dancer Channing Tatum for Fox’s update of “Guys and Dolls.” Even though that gangster musical is looking long-in-the-tooth and the Marlon Brando/Frank Sinatra screen version was not very good, that’s a screen pairing I would love to see.
As a parent who took a gaggle of Immaculate Heart high school girls to see the show when it played L.A.’s Ahmanson Theater (they loved it), I can testify to “Into the Woods”‘ accessible commerciality: it’s so packed with familiar fairy tale creatures–Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Little Red Riding Hood, among others –that I’m surprised Jeffrey Katzenberg hasn’t already scooped up the rights.