Ryan Murphy, fresh of his success of “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts and reviving the musical genre with the success of the hit FOX show “GLEE”, looks like he is returning to the film studio once again. MTV news reported on Feb. 10th that Mr. Murphy is being courted by Sony Pictures and Will Smith to direct a new film version of “Annie” to star Smith’s daughter (already a modest singing success with pop single “Whip My Hair”). Having single handedly revived and redefined the musical genre with “GLEE”, Mr. Murphy seems the obvious choice to lead the latest in attempts to revive the film musical, which has been in decline since the remake of “Hairspray” with Zac Efron and Nikki Blonski. While Johnny Depp’s “Sweeny Todd” was a critical success in 2008, it was a box office disappointment, making only a little more than 2 million dollars more than was spent making the movie. Since 2008, the movie musical seems to have disappeared.
Well, thanks to the talents of Ryan Murphy, it may be making a comeback. Not only has his name been associated with “Annie”, but his name has been associated with a possible “Rocky Horror Picture Show” remake for FOX. Rumors also abound about a film version of the Broadway smash “Wicked” whose stars and music have already featured prominently on “GLEE”. Guess whose name is linked with that film as well? You guessed it — Mr. Murphy. MTV’s movie blog quoted Mr. Murphy regarding the “Wicked” remake:
“I love that show, I’ve used the music of that show on ‘Glee,'” he said. “I think that show is about empowerment, which is what ‘Glee’ and ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ are about, so it would be an honor to be asked to [direct the adaptation].
Besides the musicals, Hollywood.com reported last year that Mr. Murphy has another deal to do an undisclosed film with Julia Roberts once again, with Roberts playing a working mom with a stay at home husband. Also disclosed last year was a Larry Kramer vehicle, “The Normal Heart”, starring Mark Ruffalo. Larry Karamer’s semi-autobiography has been known as a powerful play about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1980’s. Mr. Murphy and Mark Ruffalo had some comments on this project as well (courtesy of Filmofila.com), which is scheduled to begin shooting in June.
“I’m directing it from Larry Kramer’s beautiful script and we’re going to shoot that in June of next year, I think it’s an important story and I think Mark Ruffalo is just beyond brilliant so I’m very excited to be directing him.”
On the other hand, Mark Ruffalo added:
“I think there’s a real powerful message to that and something that we forget. We can get really cynical about what we can do, it gets stacked against us and they’re all corrupt and at the end of the day, everything starts with people. The reason they’re there is because of us — It’s a juicy part. It’s just a great role, man. He’s a fighter, you know?”
If Mr. Murphy gets a chance, I have no doubts he will accept the “Annie” movie gig. This is his chance to make some powerful people very happy, and establish himself as someone more than just a former glee-club member when it comes to full-length musicals. Based on his experience there, I would not be surprised if he took the helm of “Wicked” and I, for one, think it will be brilliant! His talent with film making is obvious and I look forward to “The Normal Heart” and hope the next Roberts vehicle becomes a reality.
For the future, legions of Gleeks look forward to continued success with “GLEE”. Who knows? Maybe a lot of new converts will fall in love with movie musicals again if Ryan Murphy is at the helm. Whatever happens, it is an exciting time for Mr. Murphy and the entire genre of Musical Film.