While In the Heights was a hit on Broadway, its journey to the big screen was the epitome of developmental hell. But fortunately, the film is finally coming out this summer. Now, Lin-Manuel Miranda has opened up about the process of bringing In the Heights to the silver screen. Miranda revealed how the Broadway musical went from a small movie to a big, splashy theatrical release.
After the success of Hamilton, it was only right Lin-Manuel Miranda would want to bring his first Broadway smash-hit to movie theaters. The multi-hyphenated creator, along with the cast, spoke with New York radio icon Angie Martinez about In the Height’s stage-to-screen journey. Miranda told Martinez (via AV Club) about director Jon M. Chu’s vision shaping the film’s scope:
I have to say, Jon, I think, dreamed bigger than any of us in terms of the size and scope of this. We spent our summer [of 2019] on 175th St. and Autobahn. You know, he was committed to the authenticity of being in that neighborhood.... And then also, when it comes to the production numbers, dreaming so big, I mean this is a big movie musical. I think we’re so used to asking for less—just to ask to occupy space, as Latinos. Like, let us make our little movie. And Jon, every step of the way, was like, ‘No. This is a big movie. These guys have big dreams. We’re allowed to go that big. And I’m just so thrilled with what he did because I think it’s bigger than any of us ever dreamed.
Seeing the trailer and hearing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s words were like night and day. As Miranda mentioned, BIPOCs in entertainment (especially Blacks and Latinos) are used to doing so much with so little within certain spaces. In Hollywood, Latinos are still underrepresented in the mainstream culture, so In the Height’s journey fell in line with that narrative. It was nice to hear that Jon M. Chu pushed Miranda and everyone else to want for more. Given the scale of In the Heights on Broadway, it deserved to be a big Hollywood musical spectacle, especially for the Latino community.
Jon M. Chu’s bigger vision helped to push Lin-Manuel Miranda and In the Heights to bigger heights. The musical film was shot before Miranda’s Hamilton broke streaming records on Disney+ and resurrected movie musicals from a lull (see: Cats). But it was Chu’s fortitude that allowed the actor-writer to embrace In the Heights’ legacy. This culminated in a book about the film’s journey and its release date being pushed up. So far, the musical film is shaping up to be this year’s Hamilton forcing moviegoers to finally go back to the theaters, according to the film's star, Anthony Ramos.
In the end, it was Jon M. Chu’s vision and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s belief that turned In the Heights from a small film to a big Hollywood spectacle. Now, fans will only have to wait until June 11 to see all the big musical numbers and romance in theaters or on HBO Max.