Keep calm and carry on singing, Hollywood style

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

As in the 1930s, tough economic times mean more musicals on the cinema screen

Blockbuster films will be alive with the sound of music, as Hollywood this year brings a bumper crop of musicals to the big screen. Studios are rushing to release titles familiar to theatre audiences – along with remakes of existing film musicals and original scripts – and A-list actors are lining up to show off their singing talents.

Industry commentators say Hollywood's renewed interest is in large part a feature of the economic downturn, when such productions historically fare well, and the fact that studios favour established brands.

The movie of Les Misérables – the world's longest-running musical – starts filming next month with Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. Tom Cruise tackles his first musical in June's Rock of Ages, adapted from the 1980s-themed Broadway and West End show.

Matt Weaver, producer of Rock of Ages, said Cruise – better known for action blockbusters – was "incredible". He added that although Hairspray and Mamma Mia! – the highest-grossing movie musical worldwide – had done well in recent years, it would be naive to ignore the effect of the hit TV show Glee in boosting interest in musicals. The producer said opening off-Broadway in October 2008 during one of the "darkest times" had actually helped the stage version of Rock of Ages because it was a "feel-good" show.

"Hollywood generally provided good cheer during the 1930s to an audience that really needed it, and maybe the same sort of thinking is going on," said the film critic Barry Norman.

Helen O'Hara of Empire magazine said musicals had always gone through surges and dips in popularity, but that the latest interest was part of a current general Hollywood trend for "safe havens". "They're anxious to go for recognisable brand names. The economy being what it is, the pressure's really on the studios to keep the money coming in," she said.

The West End had record sales in 2011, with £329m of the £528m taken coming from musicals. Broadway attendances and gross were up more than 5 per cent in the 2010/11 season.

Annie

Hollywood actor Will Smith is reportedly teaming up with rapper Jay-Z, who sampled the musical's tune "It's a Hard Knock Life" in one of his tracks, over plans to remake this classic. Smith's pop singer daughter Willow, who released the single "Whip My Hair", will star in the title role. Sony Pictures Entertainment is developing the film, with Smith's Overbrook Entertainment and Jay-Z producing. The 1977 musical, which had already been made into a film in 1982 (starring Aileen Quinn), is being revived on Broadway this autumn.

Les Misérables

More than 60 million people have seen the world's longest-running stage musical in 42 countries; from this December, they can watch the film. Tom Hooper, the Oscar-winning director of The King's Speech, will oversee a cast including Hollywood A-listers Hugh Jackman (playing Jean Valjean), Russell Crowe (Javert) and Anne Hathaway (Fantine). The British actress Samantha Barks, who appeared in the BBC talent show I'd Do Anything and is currently starring as Nancy in Oliver! at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, will play Eponine.

Rock of Ages

Adapted from the 1980s anthems musical of the same name, currently playing in London's West End with TV presenter Justin Lee Collins and 2005 X Factor winner Shayne Ward, this Sunset Strip "rock'n'romance" is told through the hits of rock bands including Journey, Foreigner and Bon Jovi. Released in June, the star-studded cast includes Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, musicals regular Julianne Hough, singer Mary J Blige, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who won an Oscar in 2002 for Chicago.

Sparkle

This release – which would have been Whitney Houston's movie comeback – is a remake of the 1976 film of the same name inspired by the Supremes. The movie, also starring singer Cee Lo Green and former American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, follows three sisters in a singing group dealing with the consequences of fame and drugs. Forbes reports executive producer Howard Rosenman is planning to convert the film, set for release in the US in August and UK in October, into a Broadway show.

Joyful Noise

Country music legend Dolly Parton teams up with Queen Latifah, who appeared in hit Hollywood musical films Chicago and Hairspray, for this original story of arguments among a small-town choir attempting to win the National Joyful Noise Competition. The cast performs gospel, pop, country, rock and R&B songs from artists including Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, along with original tunes by Parton. The film opened in the US last month.

Dorothy of Oz

Broadway and Glee star Lea Michele voices Dorothy in this summer's animated musical based on Roger Stanton Baum's books, which continue his great-grandfather L Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Dorothy returns to Kansas to find it devastated by the tornado that transported her to Oz. Bryan Adams has provided songs, with Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi and Frasier star Kelsey Grammer among the cast. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical The Wizard of Oz, based on the 1939 film, is playing in the West End.

Dirty Dancing

Nobody puts Baby in a corner, and so she is plotting a return to the big screen in summer 2013. Lionsgate has lined up Kenny Ortega, who choreographed the original 1987 chick flick, to direct a remake but there are no details as to who will portray the roles made famous by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. Since the original film, the story has been adapted into a successful stage musical, which is currently touring the UK following a West End run.

Into the Woods

Walt Disney Studios is developing an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, which was revived at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in London in 2010. James Lapine, who wrote the stage musical with Sondheim, will adapt it for the cinema, with Rob Marshall, who helmed the 2002 Oscar winner Chicago and 2009 musical film Nine, as director. The plot weaves together the plots of several favourite fairy tales into an original story about a baker and his wife trying to have a child.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    9 best steam generator irons

    9 best steam generator irons

    To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing