Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'In the Heights' Gets New Life at The Weinstein Co. (Exclusive)
The Tony Award-winning musical had previously been in development at Universal Pictures, which put it in turnaround in 2011.
Lin-Manuel Miranda may have the hottest sensation to hit the stage in years with Hamilton. But the actor, composer, rapper and writer's In the Heights is no slouch either, having won the 2008 Tony Award for best musical.
Now, a film adaptation of the bodega-set project is in the works at The Weinstein Co. Miranda, who is producing, has parked the still-hot project with Harvey Weinstein and is hoping to make it for $15 million. Though Miranda will be heavily involved in the film, it's unclear whether or not he will star, now that the 36-year-old is 10 years older than the character he first conceived.
In the Heights was initially set up at Universal, and after years in development, the studio opted not to make it and cut the project loose in 2011, balking at the Kenny Ortega-helmed film’s $37 million budget — a move that was met with surprise considering the success of the stage version. The show, which also spawned a Grammy Award for best musical show album, ran on Broadway from 2008-11 and toured the U.S from 2009-11. It continues to tour the world.
"As a kid from Queens, I’ve always loved bringing New York stories to film," Weinstein said. "In the Heights and Lin-Manuel brought Washington Heights to Broadway back in 2008 and in the process turned the theater world on its head. The movie musicals of the 1950s were incredible, but In The Heights will revolutionize what movie audiences expect from the genre.“
Set in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, the story centers on a bodega owner who has mixed feelings about closing his store and retiring to the Dominican Republic after inheriting his grandmother's fortune.
Theater and film veteran Scott Sanders (Evita, The Color Purple) also is producing alongside Scott Sanders Prods.' Mara Jacobs. Marc Klein (Serendipity) wrote a draft of the screenplay for Universal. Weinstein Co. is now working off of a script by Quiara Alegria Hudes, who wrote the book for the original stage show.
"It’s been nearly 10 years since In the Heights opened on Broadway, revealing, for the first time, Lin Manuel's ground-breaking artistry to the theater world," said Sanders. "I’m thrilled to be working with Lin and Harvey to share with audiences that same authentic sound and story from the Broadway stage to the big screen.”
Given the craze surrounding Miranda’s Hamilton — a hip-hop interpretation of the Founding Fathers — the timing is now optimal for In the Heights to gain new life.
Weinstein is no stranger to bringing musicals to the screen, having shepherded Rob Marshall's 2002 best picture Oscar winner Chicago, the film that revitalized the genre and paved the way for more recent box-office hits like Hairspray, Les Miserables and Pitch Perfect. Meryl Poster, who played a key role in bringing Chicago to the screen when she headed up production for Weinstein's Miramax, is coming on as an executive producer on the film.
There's no director in place yet for The Weinstein Co. version of In the Heights, though the assignment would certainly have Hollywood's music-friendly helmers salivating at the chance thanks to the project's catchy tunes and upbeat rags-to-riches storyline. The musical was nominated for 13 Tonys and won four, including the top prize.
Miranda is currently performing on Broadway in the lead role of Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton, a musical for which he wrote the book, music and lyrics — and which earned the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for drama. Having debuted at the Public Theater in February 2015, Hamilton is nominated for a record-setting 16 Tonys and is expected to dominate at the upcoming awards ceremony, which is set to take place June 12. The show moved to Broadway in July, becoming a must-have ticket for A-listers (J.J. Abrams is such a fan that he hired Miranda to compose music for Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and earning $30 million in presales en route to an astonishing $100 million projected first year. Miranda also is set to star opposite Emily Blunt in Disney's Mary Poppins Returns, which will be released on Dec. 25, 2018.
He is repped by WME, Liebman Entertainment and attorney Nancy Rose.