Perhaps the most obvious successor to La La Land’s cavalcade of Oscar nods: The Greatest Showman, the story of circus legend P.T. Barnum starring Hugh Jackman in the lead role and co-starring Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and Zendaya. First-time director Michael Gracey is a visual effects whiz working from a script by Michael Arndt (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City) and Bill Condon (Chicago); this one drops Christmas Day 2017 in a blaze of Oscar-bait glory.
Also worth keeping an eye on: Disney’s long-gestating Bob The Musical, which will feature original tunes from Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie and sounds a little bit like Inside Out but with songs; a still-untitled domestic-comedy musical starring and co-written by Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon, Frozen), with new music from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz; and a Will Ferrell-Kristen Wiig vehicle based on the 2013 book Everything Is Coming Up Profits: The Golden Age of Industrial Musicals, with an original score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray). Insight into corporate America’s attempt to brainwash consumers through original songwriting, from two SNL MVPs? Count us very much in.
The Remakes and Sequels
Kinda bummed that Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t reach full EGOT at this year’s Oscars? Have no fear — he’ll have a good chance to do so in two years. The Hamilton mastermind is starring in Mary Poppins Returns, alongside Emily Blunt as the beloved title character, Meryl Streep (who might know a thing or two about attracting Oscars attention) and Colin Firth (ditto). Rob Marshall’s sequel arrives on Christmas 2018, just a few months after Bradley Cooper’s reimagining of A Star Is Born, starring Lady Gaga -- who reportedly "will compose and perform new music for the film" -- is unveiled in September 2018. Gaga was nominated for a Best Original Song statue last year; could she barge into Best Actress two years from now?
Elsewhere, Steven Spielberg expressed interest in rebooting West Side Story last year, and as one of the most successful musicals and soundtracks of all time, a remake (with a script reportedly coming from Angels in America scribe Tony Kushner) seems all but inevitable in this post-La La landscape. And a remake of the 1955 classic Guys And Dolls is definitely coming, with Michael Grandage (Genius) attached to direct.
The Disney Takeover
Next month’s live-action Beauty and the Beast — starring Emma Watson, and with new music from Celine Dion and Ariana Grande — is the harbinger of Disney’s upcoming extended harvesting of its late-20th-century renaissance. Earlier this month, it was announced that Niki Caro (Whale Rider, McFarland USA) would be helming a live-action remake of Mulan, the 1998 film with the deeply underrated Disney song “I’ll Make a Man Out Of You.” That film, which has not yet cast its lead, arrives in November 2018.
Then there’s the in-the-works Little Mermaid live-action adaptation, which would follow the animated classic, successful Broadway show and recent rumors that Lindsay Lohan wants to play Ariel. (That last bit probably won’t happen, but Mean Girls stans can dream, right?). And two weeks ago, Donald Glover was cast as Simba in a live-action Lion King, that will also feature James Earl Jones reprising the role of Mufasa. Jon Favreau, who helmed last year’s box-office-dominating live-action reboot of The Jungle Book, is confirmed to direct.
The Broadway (And Off-Broadway) Darlings
“Something Wicked this way comes!” a lot of people will annoyingly proclaim when the silver-screen adaptation of the Broadway behemoth starts approaching its release date. That’s a long way away — the story of the witches of Oz doesn’t arrive until December 2019 — but after years of delays, it’s finally coming together, with Stephen Daldry (The Hours, Billy Elliot) set to direct.
Much sooner than that, the film adaptation of Michael John LaChiusa’s off-Broadway chamber musical Hello Again — focusing on the travails of 10 lost souls — began filming in late 2015 and is set to arrive later this year, with Tom Gustafson behind the camera. And we’d be remiss to not mention the musical with perhaps the highest meowing-to-talking ratio: Cats is coming to the big screen, with Tom Hooper — who brought another Broadway treasure, Les Miserables, to the Oscars a few years ago — attached to direct. Let’s just hope he recruits Russell Crowe again; the role of Mr. Mistoffelees isn’t going to fill itself.