EXCLUSIVE: In the Heights, the movie adaptation of the Tony-winning stage musical by Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, is the hot auction project du jour. Jon M. Chu, who directed the upcoming Crazy Rich Asians, today completes pitching all the studios. Hudes, who wrote the script, pitched with Chu. Miranda joined them by phone. The studios got an early look at the script, and they involved their marketing departments in these pitch meetings to describe how they will market the film. Several studios dressed up backlots to resemble scenes in the movie. Multiple offers are on the table, and a decision is expected by next week. Chu will direct the film and brought along a visual presentation.
Ironic this is going on just as a decision is to be made on the sale of The Weinstein Company in bankruptcy court next week. The pitch process was made possible because the reps of Miranda and Hudes smartly extricated the rights from The Weinstein Company, months after its creators demanded back the property following the Harvey Weinstein alleged sexual assault scandal bared in articles in the New York Times and the New Yorker.
The reps quietly got back the rights just before TWC plunged into bankruptcy, as did another top notch musical, Pippin. At the time Deadline revealed this, the buzz was that Disney and Warner Bros would be strong candidates; Miranda stars in Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, and he composed music on the animated hit Moana. Warner Bros made the Chu-directed Crazy Rich Asians a big part of its recent CinemaCon presentation. Fox, coming off the hit The Greatest Showman, just made a deal to turn Spamalot into a film with Eric Idle and hot Broadway helmer Casey Nicholaw, and also seems bullish on musicals. Sony hung flags outside the Thalberg meeting for its meeting. The last meeting just finished moments ago at Paramount, and offers seem to be coming from everywhere.
Miranda starred a decade ago when In the Heights opened on Broadway. He played a bodega owner in Washington Heights who strikes it rich and plans to leave, until the pull of the neighborhood and the people in it give him pause. The musical won four Tony Awards.
It looks like a happy ending for the musical’s creators, who publicly demanded the project be free of association with Harvey Weinstein. Right after the scandal broke, Hudes was outspoken on social media, and Miranda backed her up. In a demand for rights to revert, she wrote: “Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation is despicable enough, but combined with his staggering power it’s insidious, even devilish. Decades. He thrives on this. He build an empire in this. It’s been hard for me to sleep at night. My stomach is in knots. Forget the platitudes about ‘I have a daughter’ (which I do). I have friends, I have a mom, I am a woman. Harvey did not act alone. He had powerful enablers in his company and at the top tier of the criminal justice system. I hope there is an ethical investigation into Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s role in enabling Harvey Weinstein’s illegal behavior.”
Miranda is repped by WME, Liebman Entertainment and attorney Nancy Rose of Schreck Rose; Chu is repped by UTA and Principato-Young; Hudes is WME and Objective Entertainment.