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Willow Smith Will No Longer Star In 'Annie' Remake; Might Quvenzhané Wallis Take Over?

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act January 30, 2013 at 3:11PM

Last we wrote about this project in summer 2012, Emma Thompson, talking to the BBC, said that she'd been writing the script for nearly three years, was excited about it, and was heading to LA to work with Willow Smith (who was to star in the film), and that Jay-Z (who's one of the film's producers) had already started working on the music for it, with a shoot start date aimed for this spring in New York.
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Willow Smith

Last we wrote about this project in summer 2012, Emma Thompson, talking to the BBC, said that she'd been writing the script for nearly three years, was excited about it, and was heading to LA to work with Willow Smith (who was to star in the film), and that Jay-Z (who's one of the film's producers) had already started working on the music for it, with a shoot start date aimed for this spring in New York.

Skip ahead to today, to the announcement this afternoon that Will Gluck has been tapped by Will Smith and his Overbrook Entertainment producing partners, Jada Pinkett Smith, and James Lassiter, to direct the upcoming Annie remake, which we've been following for about 3 years now, since it was first announced.

But wait! Willow Smith is NO longer going to star in this remake! So, what happened? That answer isn't public yet; but it could very well be that, given how much she's grown up in the last 3 years (and not just physically), she's likely no longer fit for the role. 

So what does that mean for casting? Will the Smiths stay with a black girl in the lead, and cast another young black actress? Your guess is as good as mine.

By the way, who's WIll Gluck? He directed Easy A and Friends with Benefits. 2 modestly-budgeted films that did well enough at the box office.

So this ends a director search that had been going on for a quite a while.

Previously, Aline Brosh McKenna, the screenwriter for The Devil Wears Prada, and We Bought A Zoohad been brought on to rewrite the screenplay for the project.

McKenna would reportedly use both the Broadway musical and the comic strips that first introduced Annie, as sources for the screenplay adaptation - a story that we last heard will be set in DetroitMichigan.

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.

Craig Brewer's name was also once in the mix. 

As you can see, there apparently wasn't a single black director considered for the job... at least, none whose name has been made public, so I'm going solely based on available info.

As director, Gluck will now revise the existing script, with Sony eyeing a fall production start date, for a release some time in 2014.

Quvenzhane

The film will include some of the old Annie songs, but some will also be cut to make way for Jay-Z's reworking of the soundtrack.

When asked about 11-year-old Willow, Thompson replied last year, "I really like Willow. She is getting so tall."

Yeah, she's probably too tall now; although she's still only 12 years old. The original Annie in the Broadway musical that the film is based on, was 11.

I'm going to say it here first folks, with Willow Smith now out, is this a perfect opening for a rising star in Quvenzhané Wallis, who'll be 10 years old by the time shooting starts this fall, and has the more baby-like, little girl features that the role might call for?

I think Willow, despite being 12, may be too *grown* for this. And what other young black actress in that age group is hotter than Ms Wallis right now, with an Academy Award nomination on her resume, for her awesome work in 2012's indie film darling, Beasts of the Southern Wild?

A key question will be how well she can carry a tune... but it seems like a no-brainer at this point, doesn't it?

Stay tuned.

This article is related to: Willow Smith


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