Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki Watch: First Trailer For Tim Burton's 'Big  Eyes' Starring Amy Adams And Christoph Waltz Watch: First Trailer For Tim Burton's 'Big Eyes' Starring Amy Adams And Christoph Waltz 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date First Look: Cobie Smulders & Guy Pearce In Andrew Bujalski's 'Results' First Look: Cobie Smulders & Guy Pearce In Andrew Bujalski's 'Results' 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders Review: 'The Maze Runner' Starring Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson, Will Poulter And More Review: 'The Maze Runner' Starring Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson, Will Poulter And More Exclusive: Matthew McConaughey Won’t Be Back For ‘Magic Mike XXL,’ Director Says Sequel Will Be “Very Different” Exclusive: Matthew McConaughey Won’t Be Back For ‘Magic Mike XXL,’ Director Says Sequel Will Be “Very Different” David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

'Chicago' & 'Pirates 4' Director Rob Marshall Planning Big-Screen Version Of Stephen Sondheim's 'Into The Woods'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 11, 2012 at 8:58AM

While we're not exactly overrun by the things, the last decade has seen a semi-revival of the movie musical. Once Hollywood's biggest genre, the style virtually disappeared from theaters in the 1980s and 1990s, only for the likes of "Moulin Rouge!" to revitalize cinematic singing-and-dancing in the early '00s, and now we get a movie musical, if not necessarily every year, then every couple, and more often than not it's an adaptation of a stage hit.
0
Rob Marshall Into The Woods

While we're not exactly overrun by the things, the last decade has seen a semi-revival of the movie musical. Once Hollywood's biggest genre, the style virtually disappeared from theaters in the 1980s and 1990s, only for the likes of "Moulin Rouge!" to revitalize cinematic singing-and-dancing in the early '00s, and now we get a movie musical, if not necessarily every year, then every couple, and more often than not it's an adaptation of a stage hit.

And the man perhaps most associated with the revival, along with "Hairspray" and "Rock of Ages" helmer Adam Shankman, is Rob Marshall, a Tony Award-winning choreographer and director (his big break was co-directing a stage take on "Cabaret" with Sam Mendes), whose 2002 film debut "Chicago" was the first musical to win the Best Picture Oscar since "Oliver!" in 1968. His second musical film, "Nine," wasn't anywhere near as successful, but with the director coming off a billion-dollar hit in the song-free "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," he's got something close to free rein, and it was only going to be a matter of time before he returned to the genre he knows he best.

And it looks like that return is on the horizon, as The Hollywood Reporter report that Marshall has signed a two-year deal tying him exclusively to 'Pirates' studio Disney, and one of the projects he'll be pursuing as part of that? An adaptation of "Into The Woods," one of the best known musicals by one of the form's most critically acclaimed talents, Stephen Sondheim ("Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street").

Marshall has worked as a choreographer on a number of Sondheim stage productions, and originally met with the musical's co-writer James Lapine a year ago, the writer telling the trade, "We talked about the meaning of it, and how timely it is still, and about family - that's always at the core of our lives." Marshall took the project to Disney, who reacted with some enthusiasm, and now the film's moving ahead, with Lapine writing the screenplay, and Sondheim being courted to add new songs to his stage hit.

The show, which originally premiered in 1986, fits right into the zeitgeist of the moment, focusing as it does on a number of famous fairy tale characters, including Cinderella, Jack, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood, who cross paths with the central couple, The Baker and The Baker's Wife, as they seek to lift a witch's curse that has left them unable to have children. But it's not some unimaginative "Red Riding Hood"-style reboot; instead, it's a rather dark, complex piece of work about the effects that parents can have on their children, and vice versa.

The film has competition for Marshall's next slot, with a remake of "The Thin Man," which will reteam the director with Johnny Depp, already well into development, with Billy Ray working on a script at present. And plenty of others have tried and failed to make "Into The Woods" in the past. Steven Spielberg and Sam Mendes flirted with it at various points, while versions directed by Penny Marshall (with Robin Williams, Goldie Hawn and Cher) and Rob Minkoff (with Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan and Susan Sarandon) both came very close to production in the 1990s.

But there's a reason it's never come to pass in movie form. The structure of the piece, which runs at about three hours, is an inherently uncinematic one, with a false ending midway through, and then a sort of darker reprise of the first half -- it essentially sequelizes itself at the halfway mark. Furthermore, Marshall's going to have to be a little more imaginative with his direction -- there aren't a lot of dance numbers, his greatest strength, and he certainly can't use the "take the songs and put them on a stage" approach he's applied to previous musicals.

Still, the piece is a great one, and we liked "Chicago" well enough that we won't dismiss Marshall's involvement entirely, particularly with Sondheim and Lapine involved. If nothing else, we'd rather see him take this on than "The Thin Man," and if Tom Hooper's "Les Miserables" takes off at the end of the year, expect this to climb Disney's list of priorities. 

This article is related to: Rob Marshall, Walt Disney Pictures, Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates