Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-Winning Musical In the Heights Set to Be a Film From The Weinstein Co.
I’ll admit it. I’m a Lin-Manuel Miranda hipster. Sure, everyone’s all over him now because of Hamilton, but I was there back before people all over the country knew his name. Back when I sat mesmerized in a Broadway theater watching a musical that captured so much of my life as a Latinx in New York City, In the Heights. Now, that musical is finally going to be a film.
In the Heights tells the story of a Dominican bodega owner in Washington Heights named Usnavi who’s conflicted about gentrification and isn’t sure if he wants to stay at his family bodega, or go live in the Dominican Republic, after he inherits a small fortune from the neighborhood matriarch who “practically raised” him. It also tells the story of the diverse Latinx in the neighborhood, and won the Tony for Best Musical in 2008. Check out the opening song here:
A film version of In the Heights was already in the works at Universal and set to be directed by Kenny Ortega, but after a few years the studio decided to pull the plug on the project in 2011. Now, The Weinstein Co. has stepped in and will be making the film with Miranda on board as Executive Producer and a script written by Quiara Alegria Hudes, who wrote the book for the original musical. Scott Sanders Prods.’ Scott Sanders (Evita, The Color Purple) and Mara Jacobs will also be producing. There’s no director on board yet.
Also unsure is whether or not Miranda will be playing the lead. After all, he’s now ten years older than he was when he originated the character (and sadly, one look at the film version of Rent will tell you that playing a character ten years after the fact isn’t always the best idea). Still, In the Heights as a film musical is an exciting prospect!
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Harvey Weinstein said, “As a kid from Queens, I’ve always loved bringing New York stories to film. In the Heights and Lin-Manuel brought Washington Heights to Broadway back in 2008 and in the process turned the theater world on its head. The movie musicals of the 1950s were incredible, but In The Heights will revolutionize what movie audiences expect from the genre.“
I still haven’t seen Hamilton, but I’m as obsessed with that soundtrack as I’m sure most of you are. There’s no question that it’s a work of brilliance, and its racially diverse casting policy makes it unique on Broadway. That said, it’s still the story of the white dudes on our money. While it was a brilliant idea for Miranda to examine Alexander Hamilton’s story through the prism of the immigrant experience, it’s been a bit grating to see that this musical has managed to become the phenomenon it’s become, while Miranda’s other Tony-winning musical (Come on, we know Hamilton is getting the Tony this year!) — the one that was about people and a New York I recognized, the one I saw myself in — didn’t have the same cultural impact.
It’s my hope that with a film version, a mainstream audience will come to know and love “a corner full of foreigners” as much as I do!
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