Thursday, April 20, 2006
Mamma Mia! Coming to the Big Screen
Hollywood has not given up on musicals yet -- especially if Tom Hanks likes one. Despite poor box office from such recent big screen versions of Broadway hits The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, and The Producers, the film industry is forging ahead with the production of big screen musicals based on Dreamgirls, scheduled for release later this year, and the smash hit, Mamma Mia!, based on the music of late 70s super group ABBA, scheduled for a late 2007 opening. Mamma Mia! -- which tells the story of a bride-to-be who locates three men who might be her father and invites them to her wedding -- and has grossed more than $1.6 billion worldwide since opening in 1999, according to Variety, is set to be produced for the screen by Tom Hanks. (The stage show is produced by Judy Craymer, and ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus.) So, what exactly is it about ABBA songs that has given them such staying power -- first radio, then live theater and now film? In the Variety report about the film deal, producer Craymer was quoted as saying, "We've never had stars in the show, the music has always been the star, but we are certainly thinking about names as we take this from the stage to the screen," leading ABBA fans on the forums at the official ABBA website, www.abbasite.com buzzing with speculation as to who might play the roles. Casting suggestions for female roles in the film have included (Hank's wife) Rita Wilson, Kate Jackson, Olivia Newton-John, and Nicole Kidman, and for male roles -- John Travolta, Russel Crowe, Heath Ledger and Hugh Grant. If successful, will we see Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp's stage hit Movin' Out (based on the songs of Joel) hit the screen next? Will anticipation for the Mamma Mia! movie keep the flames of this movie musical revival alive or will it be the last flickers of a dying fire?