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9 Musicals That Need Movies and Which Directors Should Take Them On

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire June 17, 2014 at 12:6PM

With Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the popular stage musical "Jersey Boys" opening this weekend, we got to thinking about what musical theater productions are worthy of a film adaptation and which directors would be perfect to bring them to the silver screen.
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Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair Eastwood and his "Jersey Boys"

The movie musical certainly had a heyday in the 1930s and 40s, but thanks to films like 2001's "Moulin Rouge!" and 2002's "Chicago," musicals have made a comeback throughout the aughts and the teens during this millennium. With Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the popular stage musical "Jersey Boys" opening this weekend, we got to thinking about what musical theater productions are worthy of a film adaptation and which directors would be perfect to bring them to the silver screen.

Here's our list of musicals that haven't yet gotten film adaptations and who we think should take them on. Let us know what shows you want to see on film, and who you think would be the perfect director. 

"Avenue Q"

"Avenue Q" Directed by Edgar Wright "(Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz")

With an unmatched eye for satire, Edgar Wright spun iconic tale "Dawn of the Dead" into contemporary comedy landmark "Shaun of the Dead." "Avenue Q," written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, does the same thing, throwing a dirty, twisted spin into an American cultural staple: "Sesame Street." Having just jumped ship on Marvel's still in pre-production "Ant-Man," perhaps a stage adaptation would make sense as Wright's next step, and the decade-running Tony-winner would suit his skill set well. (Brandon Latham)

"The Book of Mormon" Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ("The Lego Movie," "22 Jump Street")

"The Book of Mormon" is a Broadway show that shouldn't have worked. An extremely satiric musical about two Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in Uganda where locals are dying of famine and AIDS, it has all the makings of a bad taste disaster. Yet as brought to the stage by the combined forces of "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and "Avenue Q" lyricist Robert Lopez, "The Book of Mormon" is a complete sensation with critics and audiences alike. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have made a career out of taking on projects that on paper shouldn't work ("The Lego Movie," "21 Jump Street" and its hilarious, meta sequel "22 Jump Street"), but in their hands fly. They have a proven track record with comedy and visual flair to spare. It's a perfect match! (Nigel Smith)

"Cats"
"Cats" Directed by David Lynch ("Blue Velvet," "Mulholland Drive")

If anyone were to direct a "Cats" film it would have to be David Lynch. "Cats" follows a group of singing and dancing felines who attempt to decide which among them will go to an afterlife called the Heavyside Layer. The afterlife? Singing cats? Lynch loves the surreal and spiritual ("Twin Peaks" and practically everything else) so a "Cats" film isn’t the last thing we'd envision the iconic director taking on. Yes, he hasn’t released a film since 2006's "Inland Empire," but his recent focus on the music industry also shows how "Cats" could be a sort of compromise between his new musical endeavors and his ability to direct dark and abstract masterpieces. (Eric Eidelstein)


"Next to Normal" Directed by Lynne Ramsay ("We Need to Talk About Kevin")

Like "Spring Awakening," but perhaps even darker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical "Next to Normal" captivated audiences for its no-bullshit approach to mental illness, drug treatment and contemporary family struggles. The musical follows a mother who suffers from bipolar disorder and the consequences her illness has on her family. In 2011, Lynne Ramsay boldly directed "We Need To Talk About Kevin," a film about a mother who struggles to accept that her son is some sort of monster. It was a film that very few would try their hands at, but Ramsay proved the most capable of directors. She's tackled the darkest kind of family drama, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem for her to direct a film adaptation of "Next to Normal." (Eric Eidelstein)
"Miss Saigon"

"Miss Saigon" Directed by Wong Kar Wai ("The Grandmaster")

There has been previous interest in making a film version of "Miss Saigon," but nothing has yet come to any advanced stage. In 2009 producer Paula Wagner and original musical producer Cameron Mackintosh were reportedly teaming up. Lee Daniels has mentioned possibly directing the project in the future. But the Hong-Kong master with his supreme stylization and visuals would be the perfect match. He'd remove the over-the-top theatrics of the story, following a blossoming relationship between an American G.I and a Vietnamese bar girl, and focus on the human elements to create a balanced, poetic work. His ability to utilize music and dance is also extraordinary, and is epitomized in his 1997 film "Happy Together," which, in depicting a turbulent romance between two men traveling through Argentina, captures the beautiful motions and intimacy of tango. (Oliver MacMahon)

"Spring Awakening" Directed by Spike Jonze ("Her," "Where the Wild Things Are")

So a "Spring Awakening" film is actually happening and it's to be directed by "Charlie's Angels'" McG. But, Hollywood is a fleeting place, and it's not too late for us to hope that another, perhaps more formidable director will take charge of the adaptation. The rock musical, a coming-of-age story that takes place in a village in Germany in the late 1800s is perfect for none other than Spike Jonze. The guy is a huge softie, understands kids and growing up ("The Suburbs," "Where the Wild Things Are") and is a famed music video director as well (The Beastie Boys, Arcade Fire). He's a romantic at heart and would be the perfect director to translate this dark, sad romantic tale onto the big screen. (Eric Eidelstein)

"Starlight Express"

"Starlight Express" Directed by Baz Luhrmann ("Moulin Rouge!," "The Great Gatsby")

The king of opulence and excess absolutely must take on this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical wherein actors portray a child's toy trains while singing and dancing on roller skates. Think of the costuming and set design that Catherine Martin could knock out, and the potential for grand, hallucinogenic sequences in which actors morph into actual train cars. The "Moulin Rouge" director could also completely bypass casting capable singers and simply have the entire soundtrack recorded by popular hip hop or indie rock artists. Act Two even opens with a rap. Someone call Jay Z. (Casey Cipriani)

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Urinetown" Directed by Harmony Korine ("Spring Breakers")

Sure, Korine just directed a commercial for Dior, but that doesn’t mean he's too ‘good’ to bring Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis’ “Urinetown” to the silver screen. Korine could definitely do a lot with the material, which envisions a world controlled by the “Urine Good Company" where citizens have to pay to pee. Korine is a master of the unusual and unnerving. Hell, he's the mad mind behind "Trash Humpers." He's also got an uncanny knack for subtle satire, as seen in "Spring Breakers," and even has experience incorporating a ballad or two. Who could forget James Franco's rendition of Britney Spears' "Everytime"? (Oliver MacMahon)
"Wicked"

"Wicked" Directed by Jane Campion ("The Piano")

The Broadway sensation "Wicked" is a visual and aural marvel, with a centerpiece that features a witch flying high atop the stage. But it's also a deeply felt, and at times very dark, drama about a woman trying to find her place in a cruel world that can't seem to accept her. Palme d'Or winner Jane Campion has plenty of experience in this area, having directed a slew of incisive female character studies including "The Piano," "The Portrait of a Lady" and "In the Cut." The musical succeeds because it doesn't paint its two dueling heroines, Elphaba and Glinda, in black and white. They're both fully formed creations. Campion's assured and singular touch would only add to that integrity. (Nigel Smith)

This article is related to: List, Jersey Boys, Clint Eastwood, Musical, Music, Wicked, David Lynch, Jane Campion, Lynne Ramsay, Harmony Korine, Baz Luhrmann, Edgar Wright