Clint Eastwood may, at first, seem an odd fit to bring the jukebox musical Jersey Boys to the screen, but here’s the first glimpse of the Warner Bros. adaptation of the Broadway smash hit. The story, written by the stage play’s book writers Marshall Brickman (Oscar-winning co-scripter of Annie Hall) and Rick Elice with an assist from Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator), tells the true story of a group of ne’er-do-well Jersey kids who formed the legendary musical group The Four Seasons, led the imitable Frankie Valli.
The original Broadway musical opened in 2006, right on the heels of the jukebox craze of past hits like Mamma Mia! (itself made into a feature film in 2008 starring Meryl Streep) and became something of a sensation of the boards. The show won four Tony Awards including Best Musical, the cast album won a Grammy and the show currently ranks as the thirteenth longest running Broadway musical of all time (and counting, as it’s still currently playing.) Eastwood’s film version of the material casts mostly unknown players in the parts of Valli and Four Season musicians Tommy DeVito, Bob Guadio and Nick Massi. Original Broadway cast member John Lloyd Young (who won a Tony) stars as Frankie Valli. Oscar-winner Christopher Walken marks the only major name in the film, playing the part of mobster Angelo ‘Gyp’ DeCarlo.
While again, Eastwood, the twice Oscar-winning director of Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, may seem an odd fit, the director did previously break a certain degree of ground helming the 1989 Charlie Parker biopic Bird. Jersey Boys opens in theaters on June 20th. Warner Bros. certainly hopes the film will spark with audiences and critics (and possibly even Academy members) in a way that was missed with the studio’s 2012 misfire Rock of Ages, an 80s-infused Broadway jukebox musical-to-screen transfer that missed both critically and commercially.