The sun will come out Christmas Day 2014 with a re-tooling of Annie. The much-loved 1970s Broadway musical, already the subject of a 1982 film which starred Albert Finney and Carol Burnett, will return to the screen and the ensemble is starting to fill out for a revamped working of the material from producers Will Smith and Jay-Z. Director Will Gluck (Easy A) has already set Academy Award nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) in the lead role as the plucky young orphan introduced into a life of luxury, aided naturally by her dog mate Sandy. Jamie Foxx is slated to play the Daddy Warbucks character – renamed Benjamin Stacks – and Rose Byrne playing his sweet-natured secretary, Grace, while Cameron Diaz will play the child-hating caretaker of Annie’s orphanage. Now comes word that Bobby Cannavale will join the cast. Cannavale, currently on screens in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine sparring away with Cate Blanchett and Emmy nominated for his supporting turn in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire is set to play an adviser of sorts to Foxx’s character.
Originally based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip created by Harold Gray which triggered the successful 1977 Broadway musical has already been the basis for the aforementioned 1982 film as well as a 1999 television movie which starred Kathy Bates and Victor Garber. The film, which was first written by actress Emma Thompson (Academy Award winning screenwriter of Sense & Sensibility) with an assist from Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) is being produced by Will Smith, who originally wanted to tool his Annie redux as a vehicle for his young daughter Willow. Wallis, with her Beasts of the Southern Wild caché eventually earned the role.
As of right now, it’s unclear whether the update of Annie will be set in the modern day or retain to its period roots; however, the film is slated to restore much of it’s beloved score, which includes the much-loved melodies of “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” and “A Hard-Knock Life.” One change that has been reported is that Foxx’s Daddy Warbucks character is now a mayoral candidate. A revival of the musical is currently playing the boards in New York and was Tony-nominated for Best Musical Revival this past June. Cameron Diaz will get one of the choice numbers, the caustically deadpan “Little Girls,” which will be a hopeful counterpoint to the karaoke she displayed in My Best Friend’s Wedding. Her role of the villainous Miss Hannigan was rumored to go to Sandra Bullock before she signed on several months back.
Annie is set for release Christmas Day 2014, coincidentally going head to head with Into the Woods, an adaptation of another beloved musical starring Meryl Streep.