EXCLUSIVE: Lin-Manuel Miranda/Quiara Alegría Hudes’ In The Heights isn’t the only movie adaptation of a Tony-winning musical to escape the upcoming Weinstein Company bankruptcy auction. Deadline has learned that the Stephen Schwartz-Roger O Hirson smash musical Pippin also got free before the beleaguered company filed for bankruptcy protection. The rights have quietly reverted back to Schwartz, Deadline learned, and the project will soon be shopped. I’ve heard that Chicago helmer Rob Marshall is interested in directing.
Harvey Weinstein made the deal for the rights back at Miramax around 2002, and it was one of the properties he took with him when he started The Weinstein Company. In 2013, after the musical won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, Weinstein enlisted Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who made the Best Picture winner Chicago for Weinstein at Miramax. With book by Hirson and music & lyrics by Wicked‘s Schwartz, Pippin originally launched in 1972 with Bob Fosse directing. It focused on the existential journey of the title character, a son of King Charlemagne trying to find his place in the Middle Ages. The show is best remembered for the signature tune Corner Of The Sky.
The Spectacular Now helmer James Ponsoldt was the first to write a movie script for Pippin, but the project has languished. It most recent got a draft by playwright JC Lee. Meanwhile, sources said that Marshall — who directed Chicago and the Daniel Day-Lewis musical Nine, wanted to direct the screen version of Pippin. Trouble was, the production Nine was so stressful, he did not want to make another movie with Weinstein. That seemed to make Pippin impossible until last October’s scandal, when Weinstein was summarily fired from TWC by its board. It still isn’t definite that Marshall will engage after he finishes post production on Mary Poppin Returns, but was once considered impossible no longer is.
When no real forward progress was made that had been stipulated in the deal, authors Schwartz and Hirson seized on the inactivity as way to recapture the rights, similar to what happened on In The Heights. Letters were sent to TWC when the scandal broke, demanding progress. Everyone was so distracted, the deadline came and went, studio insiders said. The property was reclaimed just before the company plunged into 363 bankruptcy once the Yucaipa/Maria Contreras-Sweet/Lantern Capital deal cratered. Sources credited the dogged effort of Schwartz’s attorney Nancy Rose in getting back those rights; she didn’t want to talk about it.
It will be shopped soon, sources said.