Universal is lining up directors for two Broadway musical adaptions that they have been developing. The studio is currently in negotiations with Jon Favreau to direct the jukebox musical Jersey Boys. They are also reportedly courting Stephen Daldry to helm their adaption of the Wizard Of Oz prequel Wicked.
Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West, Wicked tells the story of how Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, first met and were friends before circumstances drove them apart. The show has been a Broadway mainstay for nearly a decade now and remains one of the Great White Way’s top earners averaging $1.4 million per week in ticket sales.
While he has directed the films Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, The Reader and The Hours, Daldry also has some experience with stage material having won a Tony for directing An Inspector Calls. Although he was not one of the ones who most people assumed that Universal was talking to for the job, he certainly seems like a strong choice.
Not such an obvious choice is Favreau for Jersey Boys. The Iron Man and Cowboys And Aliens director doesn’t seem like first (or second, third or even forty-third) choice to tackle the musical story of the rise of the popular 1960s singing group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons even though his name has been associated with the project in recent weeks. While I have liked most of his output, I really can’t see anything in his filmography that would lead me to think he has it in him to direct a musical. Deadline is reporting that the project is a priority so this may push back him shooting The Magic Kingdom for Disney.
Universal seems to be positioning themselves as the studio for high profile musical projects. This December sees the release of their adaption of Les Miserables and they will be going into production on a remake of Gypsy early next year.