EXCLUSIVE: Lin-Manuel Miranda/Quiara Alegría Hudes In The Heights isnt the only movie adaptation of a Tony-winning musical to escape the upcoming Weinstein Company bankruptcy auction. Deadline has learned that the Stephen Schwartz-Roger O Hirson smash musical Pippin also got free before the beleaguered company filed for bankruptcy protection. The rights have quietly reverted back to Schwartz, Deadline learned, and the project will soon be shopped. Ive heard that Chicago helmer Rob Marshall is interested in directing.
Harvey Weinstein made the deal for the rights back at Miramax around 2002, and it was one of the properties he took with him when he started The Weinstein Company. In 2013, after the musical won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, Weinstein enlisted Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who made the Best Picture winner Chicago for Weinstein at Miramax. With book by Hirson and music & lyrics by Wickeds Schwartz, Pippin originally launched in 1972 with Bob Fosse directing. It focused on the existential journey of the title character, a son of King Charlemagne trying to find his place in the Middle Ages. The show is best remembered for the signature tune Corner Of The Sky.
The Spectacular Now helmer James Ponsoldt was the first to write a movie script for Pippin, but the project has languished. It most recent got a draft by playwright JC Lee. Meanwhile, sources said that Marshall — who directed Chicago and the Daniel Day-Lewis musical Nine, wanted to direct the screen version of Pippin. Trouble was, the production Nine was so stressful, he did not want to make another movie with Weinstein. That seemed to make Pippin impossible until last Octobers scandal, when Weinstein was summarily fired from TWC by its board. It still isnt definite that Marshall will engage after he finishes post production on Mary Poppin Returns, but was once considered impossible no longer is.
When no real forward progress was made that had been stipulated in the deal, authors Schwartz and Hirson seized on the inactivity as way to recapture the rights, similar to what happened on In The Heights. Letters were sent to TWC when the scandal broke, demanding progress. Everyone was so distracted, the deadline came and went, studio insiders said. The property was reclaimed just before the company plunged into 363 bankruptcy once the Yucaipa/Maria Contreras-Sweet/Lantern Capital deal cratered. Sources credited the dogged effort of Schwartzs attorney Nancy Rose in getting back those rights; she didnt want to talk about it.
It will be shopped soon, sources said.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.