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

by Tambay A. Obenson
January 30, 2013 3:11 PM
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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.


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.

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More: Willow Smith, Quvenzhané Wallis

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  • Donella | February 4, 2013 4:33 PMReply

    Willow would likely make a great fashion model.

  • ALM | January 31, 2013 5:58 PMReply

    Good for Miss Wallis if they select her. Her choice for the role makes a lot more sense.

  • Akimbo | January 31, 2013 10:49 AMReply

    There is no point to this speculation without knowing whether Q can sing. Maybe they'll discover some other talented little black girl with pipes.

  • FactChecker | January 31, 2013 1:18 AMReply

    TOLDJA! Months ago, I wrote that Willow -- funny that her name is Willow and she's obviously going to be very willowy, like her dad -- would be out of this. Because of her height, of course. She needs to move on from show bizz and take up b-ball or Volleyball. I'm guessing by the time her growth spurt is over, she'll be 6' 3". ... Oh, and I'm so not digging that outfit. Did she just return from Abu dabi or something?!

  • Yep | January 30, 2013 11:08 PMReply

    Excellent idea! Quvenzhane would be PERFECT for this. Alright Big Willie...make it happen!

  • robert hayes | January 30, 2013 3:36 PMReply

    what about the scene-stealer in hunger games?

  • Nadia | January 30, 2013 9:37 PM

    Yeah, nah, Stenberg is too old. She's already high school age. I think Quvenzhane makes sense if they're going to stay with a black girl.

  • Anwar | January 30, 2013 3:48 PM

    She's older than Willow. She'll be around 15 when this movie starts filming. NO.

  • I agree | January 30, 2013 3:46 PM

    Yes! Amandla Stenberg would be awesome!

  • Ash | January 30, 2013 3:31 PMReply

    What the hell is she wearing?!!

  • Geneva Girl | January 31, 2013 1:07 PM

    Wouldn't it be nice to see an 11-year old dressed as an 11-year old? There's time enough for such, uh, sophisticated clothing. I know that I'm an old-fashioned, over-protective mom, but my ten-and-a-half-year old would not be walking down the street in that get up, not even at Halloween.

  • Cordell | January 30, 2013 3:15 PMReply

    When this project was announced I felt that Quvenzhane would be a better fit than Willow.

  • angel dust | January 30, 2013 3:14 PMReply

    Thank the Lord!!! Best news ever!!!

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