Fox 2000 has won a bidding war to acquire an UNTITLED HANS CHRISITAN ANDERSEN MUSICAL, a musical-fantasy based on the life of Hans Christian Anderson that is not exactly a biopic, the Tracking Board confirms. It is composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz’s first original musical since penning the Broadway hit Wicked.
The musical will be a four-quadrant musical fantasy being pitched as a musical Harry Potter with Andersen being trapped in a fantasy world from his imagination and needing to get back to reality.
Andersen wrote some of the most beloved classic fairy tales including The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen, the latter two having been transformed into hit Disney musicals both on screen and on stage. One expects some of these characters would be involved in the story similar to how the characters from Frank L. Baum’s were updated for Schwartz’s musical Wicked.
Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort — repped by CAA and Brookside Artist Management — is the first choice for the lead role of Anderson, although he’s not attached as of yet. Elgort has a background as a trained singer and dancer
The original musical will be written by Life of Pi writer David Magee, who also wrote Disney’s upcoming Mary Poppins Returns, directed by Rob Marshall and starring Emily Blunt. The Fox musical will be produced by the Chicago and Hairspray production team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who have the Jesus Christ Superstar Live! event coming up on Easter Sunday. Magee is an exec. producer on the project, as is Zadan/Meron Productions’ Mark Nicholson.
Represented by Nancy Rose, Schwartz’s previous musical credits include Pippin and Godspell. It’s no surprise that Fox is interested in continuing in the musical domain, as the studio is currently having one of its biggest hits of 2017 with the original musical The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman. The song “This is Me” from the film has been nominated for an Academy Award, going up against the category mainstay Disney and its song “Remember Me” from Coco.
Elgort has lined-up a number of projects after the success of Edgar Wright’s Baby Drier, including John Crawley’s The Goldfinch and the title role in Jonathan.
Deadline initially reported on this story.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor