Hugh Jackman to belt his way through P.T. Barnum biopic 'Greatest Showman on Earth'
Rare: Movie musicals. Very rare: Original movie musicals. Basically non-existent: Original, live-action movie musicals. What was once the bread and butter of Hollywood’s studio system is basically the ambler-encased mosquito in "Jurassic Park." If anyone could revive that dino DNA into a brand new behemoth, it’s Hugh Jackman. He’ll do just that next summer, when he begins shooting the long-gestating "Greatest Showman on Earth."
Attached to the project since 2009, "The Greatest Showman on Earth" will star Jackman as P.T. Barnum, in a story loosely based on the circus pioneer’s life story. The film is touted as a full-fledged musical, with a song-and-dance score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the twenty-something duo behind TV’s "Smash" and Broadway’s recent "A Christmas Story: The Musical." Bill Condon and Jenny Bicks and Jordan Roberts ("The Big C") worked on previous drafts of the script, but Jonathan Tropper ("This Is Where I Leave You") penned the most recent draft that will carry on through production. Commercial director Michael Gracey will make his debut with the film that’s expected to begin production this summer in New York City, Deadline reports.
A veteran of stage and screen, Hugh Jackman finally earned a Best Actor nomination when he combined his passion for musicals and screen dramas for 2012’s "Les Misérables." Could this new role provide the showstoppers to take him to the top? Just by the nature of Barnum’s life, "Greatest Showman on Earth" should wind up a more classically styled musical, jaunty and stocked with showstoppers. It’s territory that should be even more familiar to Jackman, who starred in a 1999 TV version of "Oklahoma" before the whole "Sound of Music Live!" phenomenon took off:
Gracey remains a curious choice to helm the picture. His current claim to fame? Flash mob videos!
According to Deadline, there was much deliberation over whether to go forward with "Greatest Showman." Handing Jackman a passion project when future "X-Men" movies loom surely had something to do with it. Any resistance was over the fact that the landscape hasn’t seen an original musical since "High School Musical 3." "Greatest Showman" is a gamble, but there are worse ideas than betting on Jackman’s charm.