Murmurs of a ‘Mormon’ movie

Dauman, creatives drop film hints but no timeline

When Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman left the door open Thursday for a movie based on Broadway tuner “The Book of Mormon,” he was echoing talk already stirred by creatives Trey Parker and Matt Stone during the launch this fall of the musical’s two regional incarnations. It all points to the fact that a movie version of “Book of Mormon” is a near certainty.

Speaking at a Gotham conference for investors, the CEO of Viacom — the conglom whose net Comedy Central airs Parker and Stone’s “South Park,” and which released feature “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” under the auspices of Paramount in 1999 — was asked point-blank about a movie version of “Mormon.”

“We love working with the two of them. In fact, we have a small investment in the play given our association,” he said. “‘South Park’ is a major property for us, so we always talk to them. We’ve done movies with them in the past, and we always look for opportunities to work with them.”

But a potential film version probably won’t come anytime soon.

A pic adaptation of “Mormon,” the kind of B.O.-busting juggernaut that hadn’t hit the Rialto since “Jersey Boys,” is a natural next step for the property. Parker has said he’d direct an eventual film version, and there’s even an IMDb page for the presumptive pic, listing Scott Rudin — who lead produces the stage tuner with “South Park” exec Anne Garefino — as producer. But there’s never been a discussion of a timeline.

There can be sound business reasons for holding off. Universal has put off a no-brainer movie version of 2003 Broadway sensation “Wicked” in part to allow the legit version’s sales to crest before expanding the title into other media.

In the last decade, too, it’s grown clear that a movie adaptation can help revive a flagging Broadway longrunner. Producers of “Chicago,” the 16-year-old production, have credited the success of the Oscar-winning 2003 film version for reversing a B.O. slowdown. The Rialto outpost of “Hairspray” got a pick-me-up from its own movie adaptation in 2007, and even Broadway’s “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Rent” benefitted from the national marketing campaigns for film versions that flopped.

But in the case of “Mormon,” the real obstacle holding up a film version may be the creatives’ packed sked. One national tour of “Mormon” launched in Denver earlier this year and a second started perfs in Chicago earlier this week. Then there’s London, where the show begins West End perfs in February. All that’s in addition to Parker and Stone’s day jobs on “South Park.”

Parker and Stone have teamed with Paramount on two movies, the first of which was “Bigger, Longer and Uncut” — a project that frayed tempers on both sides before the animated pic, which cost about $20 million to make, went on to gross $83 million worldwide. The duo worked with Par again on 2004 outing “Team America: World Police.”

In any event, it can take years for a Broadway smash to make it to the movies — just look at “Les Miserables.” The buzzy awards contender hits the bigscreen in wide release later this year, 27 years after the original stage musical opened in London.

More Legit

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Warner Music Group Logo

    Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

    Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings. The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in [...]

  • Broadway

    Broadway Back In Biz After Power Outage Ends

    The bright lights of Broadway were back on Sunday morning as midtown Manhattan recovered from a power outage that lasted nearly seven hours in some areas. Social media was full of examples of how New Yorkers rose to the occasion after the power went out on a hot Saturday night shortly before 7 p.m. ET. [...]

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    Power Restored in New York City After Massive Outage Hits Broadway

    UPDATED: Power has gradually been restored to Midtown Manhattan and the theater district after what New York City officials described as a rolling blackout that darkened Times Square and other high-traffic areas on Saturday night. Officials said all power should be restored to the 73,000 customers affected by the outage by midnight ET. Local media [...]

  • Slave Play

    Controversial 'Slave Play' Is Broadway Bound

    “Slave Play,” a controversial drama that examined race and sexuality, is moving to Broadway for a limited run. Written by theatrical wunderkind Jeremy O. Harris, “Slave Play” was a sensation when it ran at the New York Theatre Workshop, drawing such bold-faced names as Madonna, Scarlett Johansson, and Tony Kushner. The show will debut at [...]

  • Mary Said What She Said

    Critic's Notebook: Seeing Isabelle Huppert and Dimitris Papaioannou in Paris

    “Do you miss Paris?” I get that question a lot, but never know what to say. How could I not? The two years I spent in that splendid city covering international cinema for Variety changed my life. “What do you miss most about Paris?” That’s a tough one too. The booksellers on the sidewalk in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content