DEAR EVAN HANSEN looks like another nail in the coffin for movie musicals, but that’s not necessarily true.
Universal’s EVAN opening to $7.5M makes WB’s $11.5M IN THE HEIGHTS launch 6/11 look like a hit. Both musicals had great credentials. EVAN won 6 Tonys — including best musical, score & actor in a musical (Ben Platt). ITH was the now legendary Lin-Manuel Miranda’s (HAMILTON) first play & brought him his first Tony (original score) in 2008.
For a musical to work with movie audiences it must be eventized and neither of these stage hits had what it takes to become movie events. Both were favorites of Broadway aficionados, but that’s not the movie audience.
Disney’s got a much better shot with WEST SIDE STORY (pictured). It’s an event film thanks to director Steven Spielberg & its classic Broadway roots — Leonard Bernstein (music), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics), Arthur Laurents (book) & Jerome Robbins (concept, choreography & direction).
People actually know or, at least, recognize WSS’s music when they hear it. Best of all, it’s an Oscar contender with great timing — opening 12/10 as a holiday season event perfect for family moviegoing.