Dancers Trending

A "West Side Story" Movie Is in the Works. Here's What We Know So Far.

Rehearsals for "America" from the 1961 film version of West Side Story. Photos by Friedman-Abeles/(c) The New York Public Library

We'll admit it: When we peruse Broadway's offerings each season, sometimes we bemoan the lack of original stories being portrayed onstage. Songbook musicals, revivals, or shows based on existing TV series or films have become a stronghold (and often a sure bet) for Broadway producers. But when a good redux comes along—like this season's surprisingly delightful SpongeBob SquarePants, based on the TV show of the same name—we can appreciate that.

Now, the silver screen has come knocking on Broadway's door for the reverse scenario: film adaptations of smash stage musicals. It's certainly nothing new, but right now there's a deluge of musicals that have nascent Hollywood dreams. The process can take years (and many stories die along the way), but there are a few exciting movies in the pipeline that we think have a pretty good chance of succeeding.


Many musicals have rumored movie adaptations in the works, but these six have had the most recent status updates.

West Side Story

With Steven Spielberg directing and a screenplay by Tony Kushner, we bet this project has legs. Another good sign: The team recently put out a casting call for the leads of Tony, Maria, Bernardo and Anita.

Our biggest question: Who will choreograph? Since Jerome Robbins' moves are so iconic, we hope much of the original choreography is retained. Someone will likely be brought in to make changes—small or large. Might it be Joshua Bergasse, who put his spin on Robbins' choreo for On the Town? Or maybe Justin Peck, who's making his inaugural Broadway move with this spring's Carousel?

CATS

Georgina Pazcoguin brought balletic finesse to Victoria on Broadway. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy CATS.

Practical cats, dramatical cats, pragmatical cats, fanatical cats. With CATS fresh off a successful Broadway revival, why not make another movie featuring these dance-savvy felines? Andrew Lloyd Webber seems to be on board. Earlier this month we learned that the famous composer has penned a new song for inclusion in the supposed film remake. Good news for dancers: It's a song for Victoria, the most balletic cat of them all. We'd love to see her character expanded.

Aladdin

A scene from Disney's Aladdin on Broadway. Via Aladdin.

Although this Aladdin is based off the 1992 animated movie, of all the musicals gunning for the big screen, it's the furthest along in the process. It's currently in production with a release date set for May 24, 2019. Plus, Big-Willie-style is all over this movie. Yes, Will Smith is playing the Genie. Along with the original singalong-worthy tunes, expect additions from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the award-winning duo behind Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman. Jamal Sims, of the Step Up franchise, is choreographing, so that hopefully means there will be plenty of dancing.

Come From Away

Come From Away continues to make waves on Broadway. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Polk & Co.

Finally! An original Broadway story. Christopher Ashley, who's been with Come From Away since its inception at La Jolla Playhouse, plans to direct the adaptation of the current hit musical. Not much information is available at this time, but we're excited to follow this movie's development.

In the Heights

Washington Heights got a major shout-out in the Broadway musical. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy In the Heights.

We'd love to see this one happen. As of October, though, plans had stalled. Quiara Alegría Hudes (who co-authored the book with Lin-Manuel Miranda) called for the Weinstein Co. to release the film's rights in the wake of harassment claims against Harvey Weinstein. Earlier in the process, Jay Z had been named as a producer.

Oliver!

The 2009 West End production featured Matthew Bourne's choreography.

The classic musical might become a movie once again, but this time, with Ice Cube as the crooked Fagin, who runs a ring of child pickpocketers. Hamilton director Thomas Kail will direct, and way back in 2014, Matthew Bourne was mentioned as choreographer. Can you imagine the rich, fantastical numbers he'd create? Consider us sold.

The Conversation
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