Universal ditches ‘In the Heights’

Musical feature was based on Broadway play

Universal has decided to pull the plug on plans to turn the musical “In the Heights” into a movie.

Based on the Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the pic would of starred Miranda as a bodega owner in Washington Heights who inherits his late grandmother’s lottery winnings and plans to close his store and retire on the beach in the Dominican Republic. Miranda can still decide to shop the project elsewhere if he would like to.

Kenny Ortega was set to direct and Quiara Alegria Hudes, the play’s original scribe, was on to pen the script.

This marks the second time in a month that Universal was forced to pull the plug late in the developmental process of a big film with Universal passing on Guillermo del Toro’s “At the Mountains of Madness.”

With ‘Mountains,” given that the film would cost around $150 million to make and would have difficulty turning a profit given that it is a horror film and del Toro was sticking to the pic being rated R.

Insiders say that while the film is a completely different film than “At the Mountains of Madness,” the budget still played a big part in why U eventually passed.

In the case with the ‘Heights,’ the scenario is different given how different the films are.

Set for $37 million, Universal was unable to attract top talent such as Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, which would have broaden pic’s appeal and therefore had to pass.

The move still comes as a surprise given how far along the pic was in the development process and how close it was to lining up that cast and a greenlight.

Sources tell Variety the studio was planning to screen test thesps for a handful of roles in the film and that decisions on those roles could have been made by the end of the week.

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