Original movie musicals are a rare commodity these days, but 20th Century Fox is one of the few studios to jump at the prospect in the past decade with the Oscar-nominated “Moulin Rouge.” Now, according to Variety, the studio is going down that road once again with stable star Hugh Jackman playing the legendary P.T. Barnum in “Showman.”
“Dreamgirls'” Laurence Mark, Jackman and his longtime partner John Palermo will produce and Jenny Bicks (“Sex and the City”) will write the screenplay for the original endeavor. The quartet worked together on this year’s 81st Academy Awards and the trade describes the project as an “outgrowth” of their work together on the Emmy-nominated program.
The big surprise, however, is the studio and producers are entrusting 25-year-old singer-songwriter Mika, a barely successful commodity in the United States, to write the film’s contemporary sounding book and score (what Rufus Wainwright wasn’t available?). Something tells this writer this part of the equation will not turn out well.
In any event, the story will focus on Barnum’s amazing ability to hype, promote and hoax audiences, his invention of the three ring circus and his romance with singer Jenny Lind.
The production is hoping to recruit Anne Hathaway for the Lind role by writing the part and songs with her in mind. Jackman, who is also pursuing a “Carousel” remake at Fox, also wants Hathaway to star in that new film as well. He might want to consider mixing it up a bit. There are other vocally talented actresses in Hollywood.
At this point, there is no director on board and production would be a minimum of a year away.
Hackman’s next picture is Neil Marshall’s thriller “Drive.” Mika’s second studio album, “We are Golden,” hits the U.S. on September 21.