EXCLUSIVE: Glee creator Ryan Murphy is Sony Pictures’ top choice to direct a re-imagining of the Broadway musical Annie, with Willow Smith playing the lovable orphan. The project was recently set at Sony Pictures by Overbrook Entertainment partners James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith in the joint venture they formed with Jay-Z to generate films. Sony Pictures has made the approach to Murphy, but it’s early days.
Though Willow Smith is a relative newcomer to the screen (she has I Am Legend and Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl on her resume), she scored a hit record with Whip My Hair!, and Sony’s bet on her brother Jaden in the Overbrook-produced Karate Kid remake resulted in a big hit. Murphy is also well regarded at Sony, where he directed Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts and made a $5 million deal to write and direct another picture with her. Murphy’s Glee success has turned him into a go-to guy on studio musicals, as he’s been courted by Fox for a Rocky Horror Picture Show remake, as well as to possibly turn the Broadway stage hit Wicked into a film at Universal.