You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

New wave breaks in ‘Pacific’

Producers plan fresh take on classic tuner

So you’ve gotten the feature rights to “South Pacific,” more than half a century after Mitzi Gaynor dazzled moviegoers in 1958’s top-grossing film.

How in the world do you engage 21st century filmgoing audiences with a remake that, while still enjoying successful legit revivals, might seem a bit musty, to put it mildly?

Producers Ileen Maisel and Bob Balaban, who announced their rights deal on July 8, believe the key is to combine the fantasy world of the beloved Rodgers & Hammerstein songs with the gritty realism of wartime romance and racism. It’s a tall order but the duo believes it’s the path to a story that works for contemporary crowds.

Balaban, whose producing credits include “Gosford Park,” and New Line veteran Maisel are meeting with screenwriters in the U.S. and the U.K. in hopes of finding a scribe who can execute that vision.

They won’t go out to directors until they’ve got a completed script in hand.

“We want to show how people really did talk and act in 1944, which is something that the film and play don’t come anywhere close to showing,” Maisel notes. “What we’re going to do is to make the songs the emotional underpinning of the story. So the songs will be the emotional ying to the realistic yang.”

And unlike many modern musicals, the new “South Pacific” producers won’t delve into the realm of magical realism. “This isn’t going to be something like Martin Scorsese’s ‘New York, New York,’ ” Maisel notes.

Preliminary plans are to shoot “South Pacific” in Bali, home to some of the world’s most spectacular scenery. But the new realism of “South Pacific” will only go so far, since Bali was occupied by Japan during World War II.

Balaban’s Chicagofilms and Maisel’s Amber Entertainment are the production entities along with Netherlands-based Imagem, owner of the Rodgers & Hammerstein copyrights. Maisel and Balaban will produce with Imagem chief financial officer Denis Wigman and Ted Chapin, president of the Rodgers & Hammerstein company.

More Film

  • Venice’s ‘The Wild Boys’ Acquired by

    Venice’s ‘The Wild Boys’ Acquired by U.S.'s Altered Innocence, MUBI (EXCLUSIVE)

    So you’ve gotten the feature rights to “South Pacific,” more than half a century after Mitzi Gaynor dazzled moviegoers in 1958’s top-grossing film. How in the world do you engage 21st century filmgoing audiences with a remake that, while still enjoying successful legit revivals, might seem a bit musty, to put it mildly? Producers Ileen […]

  • Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone in

    Michael B. Jordan Attempts to Rewrite History in First 'Creed II' Trailer

    So you’ve gotten the feature rights to “South Pacific,” more than half a century after Mitzi Gaynor dazzled moviegoers in 1958’s top-grossing film. How in the world do you engage 21st century filmgoing audiences with a remake that, while still enjoying successful legit revivals, might seem a bit musty, to put it mildly? Producers Ileen […]

  • Merger Angst Warner Media

    High Anxiety: WarnerMedia Staff Braces for New Boss as AT&T Takes Control

    So you’ve gotten the feature rights to “South Pacific,” more than half a century after Mitzi Gaynor dazzled moviegoers in 1958’s top-grossing film. How in the world do you engage 21st century filmgoing audiences with a remake that, while still enjoying successful legit revivals, might seem a bit musty, to put it mildly? Producers Ileen […]

  • Bob Iger arrives at the Oscars,

    Bob Iger: Disney Has 'Much Better' Chance of Closing Fox Deal Than Comcast

    So you’ve gotten the feature rights to “South Pacific,” more than half a century after Mitzi Gaynor dazzled moviegoers in 1958’s top-grossing film. How in the world do you engage 21st century filmgoing audiences with a remake that, while still enjoying successful legit revivals, might seem a bit musty, to put it mildly? Producers Ileen […]

  • Brian Roberts, Bob Iger Battle Over

    Brian Roberts and Bob Iger Go Head-to-Head in the Battle for Fox

    So you’ve gotten the feature rights to “South Pacific,” more than half a century after Mitzi Gaynor dazzled moviegoers in 1958’s top-grossing film. How in the world do you engage 21st century filmgoing audiences with a remake that, while still enjoying successful legit revivals, might seem a bit musty, to put it mildly? Producers Ileen […]

  • Disney Fox Merger Illustration by Rob

    Disney Ups Fox Bid to $71.3 Billion, Outflanking Comcast

    So you’ve gotten the feature rights to “South Pacific,” more than half a century after Mitzi Gaynor dazzled moviegoers in 1958’s top-grossing film. How in the world do you engage 21st century filmgoing audiences with a remake that, while still enjoying successful legit revivals, might seem a bit musty, to put it mildly? Producers Ileen […]

  • 'Izzy Gets the F--- Across Town'

    Film Review: 'Izzy Gets the F--- Across Town'

    So you’ve gotten the feature rights to “South Pacific,” more than half a century after Mitzi Gaynor dazzled moviegoers in 1958’s top-grossing film. How in the world do you engage 21st century filmgoing audiences with a remake that, while still enjoying successful legit revivals, might seem a bit musty, to put it mildly? Producers Ileen […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content