The number of recent films adapted into stage musicals boggles the mind: Big Fish, The Wedding Singer, Catch Me if You Can, Groundhog Day, School of Rock – all have seen new life on Broadway. And there are more on the way: Back to the Future, The Devil Wears Prada, Pretty Woman, Magic Mike, and A League of Their Own are currently in development. What else is ripe for adaptation? Here are my nine bets.
- Pitch Perfect. A no-brainer. The 2012 film is already a musical – and how enticing it would be to hear those songs sung live and a capella. Plus, the stage producers will save a fortune on not hiring an orchestra!
- Four Weddings and a Funeral. One dependable film-to-musical subgenre is the British feel-good movie: The Full Monty, Billy Elliot, Kinky Boots, Made in Dagenham, Bend It Like Beckham, Mrs. Henderson Presents, and Calendar Girls have all been adapted for the stage; Pride and Bridget Jones's Diary are in the works. So it's odd that nothing written by inveterate crowdpleaser Richard Curtis – not Notting Hill, not Love Actually, not even The Tall Guy – has received the musical treatment. I can only guess that Curtis, or whoever holds the rights to his produced screenplays, isn't interested. Anyway, if any of these heads to the West End, it'll be Four Weddings.
- Hocus Pocus. Disney has proven itself more than willing to mine its repertoire for stage musicals. Now that The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, et al have become Broadway mainstays, and Frozen has debuted to boffo box office, what's next? Hercules, Mulan, and Pocahontas would seem the likely candidates, but I'd choose the song-free, non-animated Hocus Pocus. Love for the witchy 1993 comedy has been gaining traction amongst nostalgic millennials – which is exactly the audience Broadway is courting right now.
- Bridesmaids. As evidenced by Waitress, Mean Girls, Heathers, and 9 to 5, cultish chick flicks are loaded with Broadway potential. And in the 21st century, has there been a bigger cultish chick flick than Bridesmaids?
- The Breakfast Club. The work of John Hughes has yet to reach the musical stage, yet Gen X'ers' adoration for Hughes's 1980s output makes such an adaptation inevitable, provided the Hughes estate (or, again, whoever owns the rights to his produced work) agrees. Weird Science and Pretty in Pink are strong contenders, but The Breakfast Club's isolated setting is tailor-made for live theater. (A small troupe in Chicago did mount their own unauthorized version in 2010.)
- Joy. Once in a while you'll get a Broadway hit based on a movie that does not exactly scream "musical material". (Grey Gardens, for instance.) David O. Russell's 2015 biopic of Joy Mangano, starring Jennifer Lawrence as the titular inventor of the Miracle Mop, is prime material. Imagine: dancers with mops! A sendup of home shopping channels! A surefire Tony nomination for the leading lady! What are you waiting for?
- Blacula. Then there is that subgenre of campy musicals adapted from exploitation films: Little Shop of Horrors is the best example, but there have also been wacky musicals based on Evil Dead, Debbie Does Dallas, Reefer Madness, and so forth. But when it comes to the 21st century, can you name any standout exploitation films? The Human Centipede already has its own musical parody; Sharknado is getting a non-musical stage act. In the end, I had to reach into the past. My vote goes to Blacula because a blaxploitation musical – done right – could turn Broadway on its ear.
- Horrible Bosses. Not every musical appeals only to straight women and gay men: look at Hamilton. But as I can't think of a recent film worthy of the Hamilton treatment, let's talk about satire, long a staple of the Great White Way. Horrible Bosses is decent fodder because it's funny, it conjures up good memories, and it's dark but not too dark. Plus it's got plenty of scenery-chewing villains.
- The Princess Diaries. For all the reasons stated above – cultish chick flick, Disney imprimatur, etc. – a musical adaptation of this film is bound to happen. In fact I was shocked to discover that one didn't already exist.