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FIRST LOOK: Meryl Streep as The Witch in Disney's 'Into the Woods' UPDATE

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood September 27, 2013 at 11:20AM

UPDATE: The first image has arrived from Rob Marshall's adaptation of Sondheim's "Into the Woods." As first looks go, this is a great one: Meryl Streep as The Witch, with claws and all, who wishes to reverse a curse so that her beauty can be restored.
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Meryl Streep as The Witch in "Into the Woods'
Meryl Streep as The Witch in "Into the Woods'

UPDATE: The first image has arrived from Rob Marshall's screen adaptation of Sondheim musical "Into the Woods." As first looks go, this is a great one: Meryl Streep as The Witch, with claws and all, who wishes to reverse a curse so that her beauty can be restored.

EARLIER: Rob Marshall's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's masterpiece "Into the Woods" has headed into production. The film, which Disney has slated for December 25, 2014 release, includes an all-new song, written by Sondheim. Besides Streep (as the Witch), the cast includes Johnny Depp (as the Wolf), Anna Kendrick (as Cinderella), Emily Blunt (in the lead female role of the Baker's Wife), Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal (as princes) and James Corden (as the Baker).

Emily Blunt
Emily Blunt

In this fairytale, the evil witch (Streep) casts a spell on an unfortunate baker (Corden) and his wife (Blunt); they want a child, so they venture into the woods to try and negotiate with the witch. 

The only danger here is for Marshall's film version is that he's a big-spender; the period movie looks expensive. David Krane (“Chicago,” “Nine”) is writing original music for the film, while James Lapine has adapted his book for the musical. Marshall’s producer for “Chicago” and “Nine” will do the producing honors.

Count me as a diehard musicals fan, and that includes Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd," starring Depp as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. More recently, "Les Miserables" proved that even a sincere movie musical with its heart on it sleeve can score at the global box office.

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp

There's a raft of Broadway to movie musicals in the works. And I love the would-be casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who danced on the ceiling on Saturday Night Live) and "Step Up" dancer Channing Tatum for Fox's update of "Guys and Dolls." Even though that gangster musical is looking long-in-the-tooth and the Marlon Brando/Frank Sinatra screen version was not very good, that's a screen pairing I would love to see.

As a parent who took a gaggle of Immaculate Heart high school girls to see the show when it played L.A.'s Ahmanson Theater (they loved it), I can testify to "Into the Woods"' accessible commerciality: it's so packed with familiar fairy tale creatures--Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Little Red Riding Hood, among others --that I'm surprised Jeffrey Katzenberg hasn't already scooped up the rights. 


 


This article is related to: Johnny Depp, Musical, Rob Marshall, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, Jake Gyllenhaal


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.