Paramount, Temple Hill Tackling New 'King and I' Musical

King & I poster and inset of Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey
Courtesy Everett Collection; Shannon Finney/Getty Images

The musical, which first bowed in 1951, was an instant smash, winning Tonys for best musical, best actress, and best actor for Yul Brynner, who catapulted to Hollywood fame.

Paramount Pictures is whistling a happy tune as it prepares to set forth on new feature take on Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.

The studio has acquired the rights to the musical that hails from famed duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, creators of Broadway classics such as Sound of Music and Oklahoma! 

Temple Hill, the banner run by Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey and behind such recent movies as Happiest Season and Love, Simon, will produce the new version. Concord, who acquired the Rodgers & Hammerstein catalogue in 2017, will also serve in a producing capacity.

The musical was based on the 1944 novel by Margaret Landon, Anna and the King of  Siam, which itself was based on the true events that occurred in the 1860s in what is now Thailand when the Western-leaning king hired an English school teacher to act as a governess to the royal children.

The musical, which first bowed in 1951, was an instant smash, winning Tonys for best musical, best actress (for Gertrude  Lawrence), and best actor for Yul Brynner, who catapulted to Hollywood fame while also being forever associated with the role.  With songs such as I Whistle a Happy Tune and Getting to Know You, the musical has seen numerous revivals and tours.

It was also famously adapted  as movie in 1956 with Brynner reprising his role of the King opposite Deborah Kerr. The movie earned nine Oscar nominations, five wins, although it was banned in Thailand.

No writer or director are attached at this stage but, according to studio insiders, the producers and the studio are hoping  to bring a contemporary perspective to the project and incorporate diversity and contrasting worldviews by incorporating real history and the musical into it.