While the world is still going crazy for Broadway thanks to the Disney+ debut of Hamilton, there have always been Broadway shows that have captured the imagination, or at the very least, film adaptations of those shows that have done the same. It is near impossible to undersell the popularity of Grease in pop culture. The 1978 film has stood the test of time, which is why the movie saw an ill-fated sequel, a live-television film, a planned streaming series, and is now in line for a theatrical prequel.
That movie, Summer Lovin', was first announced a year ago, but the project has now taken another big step forward as Deadline is reporting that Hearts Beat Loud director Bret Haley is set to helm the new movie, which will reportedly tell the story of the summer romance between the characters of Sandy and Danny, played by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in the original film. Basically, it will be a feature film version of the song "Summer Nights" from Grease,
Bret Haley is certainly no stranger to films with music at their core. 2018's Hearts Beat Loud starred Nick Offerman and Keirsey Clemmons as a father/daughter songwriting duo. Haley's next project, Sorta Like a Rock Star for Netflix, will star Moana's Auli'i Cravalho as a high school student with musical aspirations. Haley co-wrote both of those films as well as directed them, however, scriptwriting duties for the Grease prequel are being handled by Leah McKendrick. John August was previously attached as a writer as well.
Having said that, those movies are not actual musicals, which one assumes Summer Lovin' will be, though that has yet to be actually stated and if somebody is writing songs, it's unclear who.
According to the report, Bret Haley won the directing job through a combination of passion for the project, as well as a specific plan of how to update the movie for a modern audience. We'll have to wait and see exactly what that means, but it's certainly looking likely that we will as Paramount is reportedly very high on this idea, and even sees it as a potential franchise.
While it's understandable why the idea of a new Grease franchise would be popular, as the brand has shown incredible longevity, I'm not sure exactly where else you go with it story-wise. Unless the plan is to follow Summer Lovin' with a full theatrical remake of Grease using the actors cast in the Danny and Sandy roles for this movie. Maybe then we'll get another Grease II, which one feels would have to be an improvement.
Bringing a director on board is usually the final step before full-fledged pre-production gets underway, so we may start heading about auditions to be the next Sandy and Danny very soon, even if it seems likely that shooting is probably still down the road as Hollywood has a backlog of films to finish making first.