How do you modernize a classic 1970s family musical based on a comic strip that premiered during the Depression? Sony’s contemporary take on the beloved Annie is attempting such a task, and has heavyweights Will Smith and Jay Z as its producers and hopes it’s color-blind casting and pop-infused iterations of the musical’s iconic songs like “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow” will do the trick. The trailer – a surprisingly complete one at that considering the film is ten months away from premiering – for Will Gluck’s 2014-ized version of Annie has dropped. It mostly lets it’s brand name do the heavy lifting alongside it’s starry cast of Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Beasts of the Southern Wild Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis in the title role of the plucky “N.Y.C.” orphan (in a role originally conceived for Smith’s daughter Willow). Bridesmaids‘ Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale (Blue Jasmine) also co-star. This marks Gluck’s highest profile directing gig to date– he previously helmed the comedies Easy A and Friends With Benefits, and co-wrote the screenplay with Aline Brosha McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and Academy Award winning actress and screenwriter Emma Thompson.
Annie has already been filmed twice before– a 1982 version of the musical was directed by legend John Huston with Carol Burnett and Albert Finney and a 1999 made-for-television iteration was directed by Rob Marshall, a mere three years before he directed the musical Chicago to a Best Picture Academy Award and a resurgence to once dead genre. Annie tells the story of an endearing, but poorly treated 11-year-old orphan, mistreated by a tyrannical and spiteful-of-children matron Miss Hannigan (here played by Cameron Diaz, in a role originally offered to Sandra Bullock) who finds solace and a home by a wealthy, aspiring politician Ben Stacks, in an update of the text’s original Daddy Warbucks part (here played by Foxx.) On the surface, the trailer implies that the latest feature is cut from the same cloth, really only tooting it’s present day horn with references to Facebook and George Clooney.
Annie hits theaters on December 19th, incidentally only four days before Disney debuts Into the Woods, an adaptation of the celebrated Stephen Sondheim musical, being directed by none other than Rob Marshall. There’s hundred of more “tomorrows” before we get there, but be prepared for a very musical holiday season.