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Universal gets ‘In the Heights’ rights

Studio to bring Broadway show to bigscreen

Flush from the global returns of “Mamma Mia!,” Universal Pictures is tuning up another stage musical transformation. The studio has acquired rights to turn the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “In the Heights” into a feature.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created the musical, wrote the lyrics and music and has played the starring role through its Off Broadway and Broadway runs, is expected to reprise his role in the film. Miranda will produce with Meryl Poster.

Quiara Alegria Hudes, who wrote the book for the show, will pen the screen adaptation.

The tuner takes place over three days in the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, where a bodega owner (played by Manuel) inherits his late grandmother’s lottery winnings and plans to shutter his store and retire on a beach in the Dominican Republic. Trying to say farewell to the characters who live on the block, he realizes that his neighbors are his real family, and he’s torn about leaving.

Original Broadway producers Kevin McCollum, Jeffrey Seller and Jill Furman will be executive producers of the film.

“In the Heights” launched Off Broadway in early 2007 and moved to Broadway, where it won four Tonys, including musical.

“It is a timeless Everyman story that has a universal appeal,” said Poster who, as an executive at Miramax Films, supervised and exec produced “Chicago.” “In the Heights” is the first feature she has set up under her first-look deal for TV and movie projects with NBC Universal.

U, which has watched “Mamma Mia!” become the highest-grossing musical in history with $558.8 million worldwide, now has another tuner on the boards. The studio and producer Marc Platt are also in the nascent stages of turning the Broadway hit “Wicked” into a feature.

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