Will Smith got his start in entertainment as The Fresh Prince and became a Grammy winning rap artist. He would go on to conquer television and film as well, before coming back to music on the big screen, singing and dancing as the genie in the live-action version of Disney's Aladdin. Now, Smith is really turning back the clock as he's producing a new hip-hop musical that will be inspired by one of his own songs, the 1991 hit "Summertime."
Peter Saji, a writer and Producer on Black-ish, who worked on musical episodes of that series, will write and direct the musical based on the song by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince that has become a summer anthem since its release in the early 90s. Plot and casting have not been disclosed, so it's unclear if Will Smith will actually appear in the film but he is acting as a producer on the new project according to Deadline. The film is being produced at Sony. Sony Music holds the rights to the original song.
The song "Summertime" is, for the most part, just about how much fun summer is, so it probably won't give us much insight into what a Summertime movie will actually be, beyond the fact that the title song will almost certainly appear. It will probably take place in the summer. I feel confident with this prediction.
The one behind-the-scenes name, or names, that are conspicuous by their absence is the name of anybody handling songwriting. As such, it's possible that the plan here is to make Summertime a "Jukebox musical," where the songs used are all previously existing hits. We could be getting a "greatest hits" of hip-hop as a musical. Alternatively, it could be that original music will be written for Summertime, but who will write it hasn't been decided, or announced, quite yet.
Hip-hop music is certainly a genre that we don't often see in movie musicals and that by itself certainly makes Summertime an intriguing project. Lin-Manuel Miranda was able to make a hip-hop musical about the Founding Fathers work, and we've seen both Hamilton and In The Heights make their way to the screen in different ways, so clearly the music lends itself well to the musical format and there's an audience for it.
This project is clearly in early development so time will tell if we see this movie before or after the announced Aladdin sequel that we've been told is on the way.
Seeing movies inspired by songs is hardly a new idea. From White Christmas to Last Christmas, and even a few that aren't based on Christmas songs, we've seen three or four minutes of song inspire entire films before. It's designed to attract fans of the song to the movie, and often it works. Even 30 years later "Summertime" is still a popular song. Perhaps, if this movie is successful we can build a Fresh Prince cinematic universe. Looking forward to Parents Just Don't Understand: The Movie.
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