Musicals are having a moment.
On the high-kicking heels of Oscar winner “La La Land” and last Christmas’ “The Greatest Showman,” “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” opened last weekend to fantastic box office numbers, almost beating out Denzel Washington’s “Equalizer 2” for the weekend’s top spot.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
It’s no surprise, really, since the original “Mamma Mia!” grossed more than $600 million worldwide in 2008. Now, 10 years and a Cher later, “Here We Go Again” took in about $35 million in its opening weekend, a sum that was driven by an audience that was 83 percent female and 64 percent over the age of 25, according to The Associated Press.
“Here We Go Again” brought back much of the original cast, such as Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Amanda Seyfried and Pierce Brosnan, and added the aforementioned Cher, Andy Garcia and Lily James to the mix.
The film is a blast — and makes no pretenses to do anything but entertain. Fans of movie musicals — and ABBA in particular — will be pleased.
So it certainly looks like the movie musical is still a very vibrant genre. In fact, more movie musicals are headed our way in the next few years. Here’s a look at what’s coming:
“A STAR IS BORN’’
The lowdown: After the 1954 original with Judy Garland and James Mason and the 1976 remake with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson comes this new version, about a seasoned musician who discovers and falls in love with a struggling singer.
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga
The buzz: One could argue that this isn’t necessarily a musical, but a musical film. Regardless, it’s Cooper’s first outing as a director and Gaga’s first lead movie role, so it’s pretty high-profile. Early word is positive, though, even from Streisand, who told The Associated Press in June that “What I saw of it was very good.”
Release date: Oct. 5
The lowdown: Again, more of a musical film than an all-out musical, but it looks to be a foot-stomping celebration of flamboyant rock band Queen, its music and its extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury.
Cast: Rami Malek (from TV’s “Mr. Robot” as Mercury), Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers, Lucy Boynton
Director: Bryan Singer (sort of — more on that in a sec)
The buzz: The film was awash in production troubles, including rumors of growing tension between Singer and Malek that led to a confrontation. Singer was eventually fired by Fox in December 2017 followed by Singer’s “unexpected unavailability.” Singer eventually received the directing credit for the film, despite being replaced by Dexter Fletcher during its latter stages. All that aside, fan anticipation seems to be rabid and there is early talk of Oscar buzz for Malek.
Release date: Nov. 2
“MARY POPPINS RETURNS”
The lowdown: Highly anticipated sequel to the 1964 Disney classic that won Julie Andrews an Oscar. The new film is set in London in the 1930s, some 24 years after the events of the original.
Cast: Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, Meryl Streep, Ben Whishaw, Colin Firth, Julie Walters
Director: Rob Marshall (“Chicago,” “Into the Woods”)
The buzz: Broadway smash “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is also among the cast and contributed some original songs for the film, so maybe we can expect a hip-hop remix of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?”
Release date: Dec. 19
The lowdown: Follows the rise of a pop star named Celeste from the ashes of a major national tragedy to pop superstardom. The film spans 15 years and traces important cultural moments through her eyes.
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law
Director: Actor-turned-director Brady Corbet
The buzz: Not much is known about the film at this point. But who knew Portman could sing? (Assuming she can, of course.)
Release date: Early-to-mid-2019
The lowdown: Yes, yes, it’s finally happening, the wildly popular Broadway smash is finally getting made into a movie. The story follows Elphaba, the misunderstood, smart, and fiery girl of emerald-green skin who grows up to become the notorious Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the beautiful, blonde, popular girl who grows up to become the Good Witch of the South.
Cast: Being kept top-secret at the moment.
Director: Stephen Daldry (who received Oscar nominations for directing “The Reader,” “The Hours” and “Billy Elliot”)
The buzz: Absolutely ecstatic. Message boards go on and on about casting rumors, wish lists and so on. Fans can’t wait.
Release date: Dec. 20, 2019
“WEST SIDE STORY”
The lowdown: Yes, this is really in the works, a remake of the 1961 Oscar winner and adaptation of the classic romantic tragedy “Romeo and Juliet,” replacing the feuding families with two warring New York City gangs.
Director: Steven Spielberg (yes, really)
The buzz: It’s certainly pedigreed, with Spielberg at the helm and Tony Kushner (Pulitzer Prize winner for his play “Angels in America” and Oscar nominee for “Lincoln” and “Munich”) writing the screenplay. The film is in its early stages, and a wide casting search for talented unknowns is under way. But here’s a pointed sign that this is really happening: the release date for the next “Indiana Jones” movie has been pushed back so Spielberg can concentrate on “West Side Story” first. Now that’s commitment.
Release date: Unknown