Twentieth Century Fox has attached Hugh Jackman to play American showman P.T. Barnum in “The Greatest Showman on Earth,” an original contemporary musical to be scripted by Jenny Bicks (“Sex and the City”).
The film will be produced by Laurence Mark (“Dreamgirls”), Jackman and his Seed partner John Palermo. It is an outgrowth of their work together on the 81st Academy Awards, on which Jackman was host, Mark was exec producer, and Bicks was part of the Emmy-nominated writing team.
Jackman will play the showman with a penchant for hoaxing a gullible public as he creates the three-ring circus that made him famous. The musical also focuses on his infatuation with singer Jenny Lind — the so-called Swedish Nightingale.
Pic will have a contemporary musical score, and the studio is in talks with British singer-songwriter Mika to write music and lyrics.
The musical follows the old Hollywood tradition in which tuners were scripted with specific actors in mind. The Lind role is being scripted for Anne Hathaway, who teamed with Jackman in his opening Oscars number.
Jackman, who won the Tony Award for “The Boy From Oz,” is determined to make several screen musicals, and the Barnum film adds another to the properties he and Palermo are putting together at Fox.
Those efforts include a David Magee-scripted “Carousel” remake at Fox 2000. Jackman also wants Hathaway as his female lead in the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic.