Just like Cher and certain cocktails, movie musicals have had their share of ups and downs, but they should never be counted out. This year, movie musicals are poised to make a big comeback — and some of them are even generating awards buzz. It’s almost enough to make people forget the epic flop that was Cats (2019).
Here’s a rundown of what to expect in 2021.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical gets an exuberant movie version in director Jon M. Chu’s celebration of life in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Anthony Ramos, Jimmy Smits, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Daphne Rubin-Vega (as a beauty salon owner who’s queer), Olga Merediz, and Miranda (who has a cameo) light up in the screen in this instant classic.
Out now in theaters and on HBO Max
Adam Driver slayed with his performance of Stephen Sondheim’s “Being Alive” in 2019’s Marriage Story. Now, there’s an entire movie where fans get to hear him sing. Driver and Marion Cotillard star in the love story Annette, an original musical directed by Leos Carax, with songs written by brother duo Ron Mael and Russell Mael of Sparks. The movie (which also stars Simon Helberg, the Mael brothers, and Natalie Mendoza) will have its world premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival on July 6, before hitting theaters and Amazon Prime Video.
Out August 6 in theaters and August 20 on Amazon Prime Video
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
The hit West End musical about a teenage boy who wants to be a drag queen has been made into this fun movie directed by Jonathan Butterell and starring Max Harwood. The movie features the same songs from the stage show, as well as new song “This Was Me.” The music is by Dan Gillespie Sells and lyrics by Tom MacRae, who adapted the Everybody’s Talking About Jamie screenplay from the book that he wrote for the stage show. If you’ve waited your whole life to see Oscar-nominated actor Richard E. Grant in drag, now’s your chance.
Out September 17 on Amazon Prime Video
Get your tissues ready — this Tony-winning tearjerker is now a movie, with Ben Platt reprising his titular role as a high school student whose life is affected by another student’s suicide. Directed by Stephen Chbosky, the movie has a stellar cast that also includes Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Kaitlyn Dever, Danny Pino, Amandla Stenberg, Nik Dodani, and Colton Ryan. The movie version of Dear Evan Hansen features new and original songs from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, as well as the same songs that the award-winning duo wrote for the stage version.
Out September 24 in theaters
Camilla Cabello is following in the footsteps of Lily James and Brandy by starring as Cinderella in a live-action movie. Kay Cannon wrote and directed this version of the classic fairytale, which has a cast that screams “fabulous talent” and a soundtrack (tracklist TBA) featuring original and cover songs. Other cast members include Idina Menzel, Billy Porter (as a nonbinary fairy godparent named Fab G), Nicholas Galitzine, Minnie Driver, Pierce Brosnan, Missy Elliott, James Corden, and John Mulaney.
Out September 3 on Amazon Prime Video
Does the world need a West Side Story movie remake? Steven Spielberg thinks so, because he directed his version that takes place in the 1950s, just like the original Oscar-winning movie and the Tony-winning stage show. With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, this saga of romance and gangs in New York City features original movie cast member Rita Moreno in a supporting role. Other cast members include Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Corey Stoll, and Brian d’Arcy James.
Out December 10 in theaters
Animated animal characters Buster, Meena, Rosita, Gunter, Johnny, and Ash are back, and they’re ready to leave Moon Theater and take on the big city in this sequel to the 2016 hit Sing. Writer-director Garth Jennings returned to helm Sing 2, which also features the reprises of Sing voice talent Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Nick Kroll, and Tori Kelly. Details on the Sing 2 soundtrack are still TBA, but it’s sure to include the cast members’ cover versions of pop hits.
Out December 22 in theaters
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Peter Dinklage (pictured above) and Haley Bennett reprise their roles from Erica Schmidt’s Broadway musical version of Cyrano. The movie, directed by Joe Wright, also stars Brian Tyree Henry, Ben Mendelsohn, and Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Out December 25 in theaters
Come From Away
Apple TV+ will debut a filmed stage performance of Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s Broadway production, featuring the original cast, in this story about plane passengers forced to land in the Canadian town of Gander in the aftermath of 9/11. Unlike Disney+’s 2020 Hamilton special, which was a compilation of old performances from 2016, this Tony-winning version of Come From Away (directed by Christopher Ashley) was filmed in 2021 specifically for the special.
Release date TBA
In what could be a game-changer for Broadway, Netflix is debuting a filmed recording of this stage production about Princess Diana before the show opens on Broadway. Directed by Christopher Ashley and with music and lyrics by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, Diana has a cast that includes Jeanna de Waal, Roe Hartrampf, Judy Kaye, and Erin Davie.
Release date TBA
MatildaManuel Harlan/Getty Images for The Old Vic Theatre
Roald Dahl’s 1988 children’s novel Matilda (about a plucky, telekinetic girl) has been turned into a 1996 feature film and a stage musical that won Olivier awards in 2012 and Tony Awards in 2013. Now, the musical (with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin) has become a Netflix movie directed by Matthew Warchus and written by Dennis Kelly. The movie’s cast includes Alisha Weir, Stephen Graham, Lashana Lynch, Andrea Riseborough, Emma Thompson, and Sindhu Vee.
Release date TBA
Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his feature-film directorial debut with this movie version of Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical Broadway musical about an aspiring musical composer in New York City in 1990. The movie (written by Steven Levenson) has been in the works for years, and it’s finally coming out on Netflix and in select theaters. Its cast includes Andrew Garfield, Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry, Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light, Alexandra Shipp, and Bradley Whitford.
Release date TBA
Main image: Max Harwood as Jamie in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.