While Broadway actors sometimes transition to the film and TV world, Lin-Manuel Miranda's success is seriously impressive. Following the award winning run of his musical In The Heights, the writer/actor took his musicality to American History with Hamilton. Hamilton is the biggest Broadway hit in years, making Miranda a household name in the process.
After gaining the notoriety and spotlight following Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda has gotten involved in the film world. The actor is starring in Disney's Mary Poppins Returns, while also working with the House of Mouse on projects like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Moana. But it turns out that turning Hamilton into a movie would be a bit challenging for the Tony winner, as he said:
Hamilton's tricky right, because one of the things Rob is so brilliant at is that transition from scene into song. I think he does it in Mary Poppins returns as well as it can be done. You never are like, 'Oh man, we're breaking it... It just happens you're in the musical number and you've surrendered to it before you even know it's going on. Hamilton is sung through, beginning to end. There's maybe a page and a half of dialogue in the the whole thing. How do you start at that tempo and keep the ball in the air with that sort of heightened speech in a way that doesn't feel like a concert?
Touche, Alexander. Because while the interest is certainly there for Hamilton to be adapted for the silver screen, the material itself presents certain challenges. Mainly that its completely sung through, and therefore there's no moments for dialogue. So a specific vision is going to be needed to keep a Hamilton flick moving, if it ever happens.
Lin-Manuel Miranda's comments to AV Club show how much thought the actor/writer has put into a potential Hamilton movie. Given the musical's blockbuster-like success, the countless Hamilton fans out there would lose their collective minds if a movie version was green-lit. Miranda brought hip hop and rap to the story of the titular founding father, helping to educate and entertain at the same time. And it's something that could become even more significant as a blockbuster.
The musical Hamilton spans years before, during, and after the revolutionary war. The Tony Award winning show begins with Alexander Hamilton as an unknown orphan, and sees as he ascends to President George Washington's cabinet. The story is told largely through narration, as characters like Alexander, his wife Eliza, and Washington himself recount each date and event from that time. It's dense material, and some big cuts would be needed in order to fit the two act musical into a movie with a suitable run time.
While Lin-Manuel Miranda is unsure how Hamilton would be adapted into a movie, the non-stop narration and singing seems to have struck a chord with theater audiences. Additionally, the soundtrack is extremely popular, so audiences might not have such a hard time as you'd think. Just look at how successful the cover album was.
Of course, there have been plenty of movie musicals that are almost entirely sung through, so perhaps Lin-Manuel Miranda's assessment of a possible Hamilton movie is off-base. Just look at 2012's Les Miserables movie. Based off the musical of the same name, both the show and movie are completely sung through, with the actors singing live on set. That movie ended up being a critical and financial success, so there as been precedent for a sung through movie musical.
Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall has helmed quite a few movie musicals, including Disney's recent Into The Woods movie. While there was room for dialogue in that movie, it's mostly filled with Stephen Sondheim's iconic music. That movie also performed well, earning three Oscar nominations in the process. Musical fans are able to sit through a movie that is almost all songs, so perhaps Hamilton will end up a movie after all.
Despite Lin-Manuel Miranda's concerns, it feels like only a matter of time before a Hamilton movie gets green-lit. The musical has been presented all over the world, and it's still difficult to get tickets for the Broadway production. Considering how insanely popular both Hamilton and Miranda have become, there's clearly enough interest for a movie to not only get made, but potentially make a ton of money at the box office as well.
Alas, it doesn't look like Lin-Manuel Miranda is focusing his creative energies on adapting Hamilton for the silver screen. Instead, Miranda has been slowly chipping away at the development of an In The Heights movie. His first Broadway musical told the story of a neighborhood in Washington Heights, and helped to make Miranda a Broadway legend.
The In The Heights movie was originally going to be presented by the Weinstein Company, before Harvey Weinstein's scandal changed the landscape of the film world forever. Lin-Manuel Miranda had to get the rights back to the In The Heights movie following Weinstein's public fallout, a task he was successful in. And now that Mary Poppins Returns will finally arrive in theaters, it might be a good time for Miranda to continue the development of that project.
While Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn't seem to have an interest in making Hamilton a movie right now, he'll soon return to his Tony award nominated role of Alexander Hamilton. Miranda is reprising his part for a production of Hamilton that will benefit the relief efforts in Puerto Rico after the devastation from Hurricane Maria. As such, there's still a chance to see the actor in the role that earned him such massive acclaim.
If Hamilton ever becomes a movie, it'll be interesting to see if Lin-Manuel Miranda ends up playing the title character. The musical spans many years, with Alexander starting as a young man, and eventually aging quite a bit before his untimely death. Miranda is arguably too old to play the role during the first few songs, although his age would factor in positively as Hamilton's life plays out.
You can catch Lin-Manuel Miranda in Mary Poppins Returns when it arrives in theaters on December 19th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.