EXCLUSIVE: The Green Day-fueled American Idiot doesn’t bow on Broadway until April 20. Already, talks are underway with Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman to turn the musical into a feature film. American Idiot uses the songs of punk band Green Day to tell the coming of age story of three small-town guys. One joins the armed forces, another moves to the city and gets mired in a drug habit, the third stays home and gets his girlfriend pregnant. There is little dialogue beyond the Green Day tunes. The musical is directed by Spring Awakening’s Michael Mayer, the music supervisor is Tom Kitt and Green Day and its lead singer/songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong were very involved. The musical first opened at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, with Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman producing, and it begins previews this week at the St. James Theatre.
Playtone’s last stage-to-screen transfer was the Abba musical Mamma Mia! Critics might not have loved it, but audiences sure did. The film grossed $610 million worldwide, becoming one of the biggest hits in Universal Pictures history. Hanks and Goetzman have a first-look deal at Universal, but the producers will sew up the movie rights before giving the studio first crack, I hear. They just set up Larry Crowne at Universal, with Hanks directing and starring with Julia Roberts.
Universal, which keeps threatening to start movement on a feature version of the stage hit Wicked, is on a faster track with In The Heights, hiring Kenny Ortega to direct a movie version that is expected to star the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, as the bodega owner who plans to use a lottery windfall to retire on a beach in the Dominican Republic. New Line is turning the Broadway musical Rock of Ages into a film, with Chris D’Arienzo adapting his book into a script and directing a coming of age story that is homage to hair band anthems.
All of this indicates that the movie musical’s heart is still beating, despite the box office disappointment of Nine last year.