[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's abstew on" Into the Woods"]
Into the Woods
Director Rob Marshall tries his (jazz) hand at another movie musical based on the popular Broadway show. The film centers around a Baker and his Wife who have been cursed by a Witch to remain childless. To break the spell, the couple must go "into the woods" to bring back certain objects. Along the way, they encounter classic characters from fairy tales including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Jack (he of the famed Beanstalk).
Cast & Crew
The sprawling cast is a mix of movie stars (Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife, Meryl Streep as the Witch, Chris Pine as Cinderella's Prince, and Johnny Depp as The Big Bad Wolf), Broadway performers (Tony winner James Corden as the Baker, Lilla Crawford, from Broadway's latest revival of Annie, as Little Red, Tony nominee Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel's Prince), and talented individuals at home in any medium (Christine Baranski as Cinderella's Stepmother, Tracy Ullman as Jack's Mother, and 2014's "It" movie musical star, Oscar and Tony nominee, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella). [more...]
Why We Can't Wait
Once upon a time...there was a legendary musical composer named Stephen Sondheim who brought an original musical based on stories from fairy tales to the Broadway stage in 1987. The musical was a critical and commercial success (it went on to score 10 Tony Nominations and 3 wins, including Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Leading Actress in a Musical for Joanna Gleason as the Baker's Wife. It did, however lose Best Musical to that 80's super-musical, The Phantom of the Opera). Hollywood soon came calling wanting to make a film version. After several attempts by other studios (including one in the 90's that would have starred Robin Williams, Goldie Hawn, and Cher), Walt Disney Pictures successfully brought the Oscar-nominated director of Chicago on-board to finally bring Sondheim's musical to the big screen.
In October 2012, Marshall had a read/sing-through of the script from Original Book Writer James Lapine (who streamlined the three hour stage version down to only two) that mainly consisted of Broadway performers (including Nina Arianda as the Baker's Wife, Donna Murphy as the Witch, Cheyenne Jackson as Rapunzel's Prince, and Megan Hilty as one of Cinderella's Stepsisters). Although, none of those particular stars made it to the final casting of the film (Corden, Kendrick, and Baranski did make the transfer), it was proof that production was being set in motion.
Once big names began signing on, each casting choice was closely scrutinized by the media. Jake Gyllenhaal had originally been cast as Rapunzel's Prince, but had to drop out when filming of Nightcrawler conflicted. But, the biggest controversy (and the questioning of just how much the film would differ in tone from the musical) centered on the casting of internet child-sensation Sophia Grace Brownlee as Little Red Riding Hood. In the musical, her encounter with the Wolf is very much a sexual awakening and it seemed inappropriate to cast a girl not even 10 years old. The part was soon re-cast with the (slightly) older and more seasoned professional actor Lilla Crawford ("Annie" on Broadway). But the biggest question mark remains the casting of Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife. She previously sang in her Golden Globe winning performance in Gideon's Daughter, but isn't the first person that comes to mind when casting a musical. Especially when Amy Adams just played the part on stage in Central Park a few summers ago.
With Marshall at the helm we're hoping the film will be met with more Chicago-sized enthusiasm rather than Nine-like critical disdain. (Just promise the musical numbers aren't staged as dream sequences, please.) With a new song written by Sondheim for Meryl Streep (to secure that Best Original Song Oscar, naturally), and an intriguing cast, let's hope the journey from stage to screen is one that's happy ever after! (I Wish!)
But We Do Have to Wait
Disney is hoping to cash in on the family-friendly, holiday season (and hopefully follow in the Oscar-winning footsteps of the last movie musical to open on this date), releasing the film on Christmas Day.