×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Why Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Hamilton’ Movie Could Be a Decade Away

At the Tony Awards this Sunday, Broadway musical “Hamilton” is widely expected to walk away with the top trophies. If it does, it’ll cap an extraordinary year that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop version of American history has spent at the epicenter of the zeitgeist. But despite the frenzy, Alexander Hamilton’s rise and fall won’t be migrating to the big screen anytime soon, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

It’s not for a lack of interest. Beyond “Hamilton’s” watercooler cache, there’s a financial reason for studios to snap it up. It’s a hot time for Hollywood musicals. “Into the Woods” and “Les Miserables” scored at the box office, fueling a revival of a genre that many observers had left for dead a decade or so ago. Television has been equally receptive. “Glee” may have ended its run, but NBC continues to find success filming live versions of musical classics such as “The Sound of Music” and “The Wiz.”

Now studios are rummaging through their Playbills in the hopes of finding their next song-and-dance hits. “Gypsy,” “Cats” and “Guys and Dolls” are making their way to screens, and Miranda’s Tony-winning “In the Heights” will finally get the movie treatment thanks to a new deal with the Weinstein Company.

Studios have been salivating at the thought of landing the “Hamilton” movie rights, but Miranda isn’t even taking meetings. For now, the creator and star is focused on finishing out his run with the Broadway production (set to end next month) and mounting a stage version in Chicago, according to a source close to the show. At the same time, “Hamilton” backers — a select and greatly enriched group that includes producers Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and the Public Theater, where the show originated — are focused on launching a national tour that will originate in Los Angeles in March 2017. They are also hammering out plans for international engagements.

It seems that eager movie producers will have to wait until Miranda clears his dance card, which is certainly overextended. Up next: He has to film “Mary Poppins Returns,” and is also working on the music for the Disney animated film “Moana.” Once Miranda signals that he’s open to hearing pitches, suitors will inundate him with calls, agents and industry observers say.

“It’s going to be super competitive,” said one prominent agent. “It’s the hottest property available in any medium.”

The agent predicted that Disney, Universal and every major studio will want to take meetings with Miranda. The bidding won’t be consigned to traditional studios either. HBO might be a contender to land rights to “Hamilton,” as would a deep-pocketed streaming service such as Netflix.

But Miranda was disenchanted by his Hollywood experience on “In the Heights.” Universal originally planned to make a movie of the musical in 2011 with Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical”) directing, only to scrap the project. It’s been in limbo until last month when the Weinstein Company resuscitated the project. That’s left Miranda less likely to make “Hamilton” as a big-budget, studio film, one insider cautions.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Miranda joked that it will take 20 years for “Hamilton” to become a movie. He did hint about what kind of film he’d like to see made about the founding father. “Someone’s going to have to have the brilliant idea of how to make this into a film on its own terms,” he said, adding, “filming is an act of translation.”

Finding the right interpreter can take time, and Hollywood’s attempts to mount big-musical productions often occur in fits and starts. Six years after it took Broadway by storm, “The Book of Mormon” is only just now starting creative meetings on a movie project. It’s been 13 years since “Wicked” kicked off its run, and cameras haven’t begun to roll on a big screen version yet.

Getting it wrong can be heartbreaking. “Rent” and “The Producers” were the “Hamiltons” of their day, playing to sell out crowds and racking up awards. But when the poorly reviewed movie versions debuted, audiences steered clear. That’s a fate Miranda would undoubtedly like to avoid, and he’s willing to wait as long as it takes to find the right partners to give “Hamilton” its shot.

More Legit

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Three Sisters review

    London Theater Review: 'Three Sisters'

    Ennui has become exhaustion in playwright Cordelia Lynn’s new version of “Three Sisters.” The word recurs and recurs. Everyone on the Prozorov estate is worn out; too “overworked” to do anything but sit around idle. Are they killing time or is time killing them? Either way, a play often framed as a study of boredom [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Hillary and Clinton review

    Broadway Review: Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in 'Hillary and Clinton'

    If anyone could play Hillary Clinton, it’s Laurie Metcalf – and here she is, in Lucas Hnath’s “Hillary and Clinton,” giving a performance that feels painfully honest and true. And if anyone could capture Bill Clinton’s feckless but irresistible charm, that would be John Lithgow – and here he is, too. Who better to work [...]

  • Hadestown review

    Broadway Review: 'Hadestown'

    “Hadestown” triggered a lot of buzz when this wholly American show (which came to the stage by way of a concept album) premiered at Off Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop in 2016. Arriving on Broadway with its earthly delights more or less intact, this perfectly heavenly musical — with book, music and lyrics by Anaïs [...]

  • Burn This review

    Broadway Review: Adam Driver, Keri Russell in 'Burn This'

    The ache for an absent artist permeates Lanford Wilson’s “Burn This,” now receiving a finely-tuned Broadway revival that features incendiary performances by Adam Driver and Keri Russell, playing two lost souls in a powerful and passionate dance of denial. AIDS is never mentioned in this 1987 play, yet the epidemic and the profound grief that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content