New 'Annie' movie less about 'Tomorrow' and all about today

Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:51am EST
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By Jill Serjeant

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Forget the curly red hair and Depression-era orphans.

The hit musical "Annie" moves firmly into the 21st century in a new film version where the star is a street-smart African-American foster kid who rides New York buses, and her savior is a black cell phone billionaire who will stop at nothing to become mayor.

"Tomorrow" is still the signature song, but the "Annie," produced by a team that includes rapper Jay-Z and actor Will Smith, is all about today.

Quvenzhane Wallis, 11, who two years ago became the youngest person to win a Best Actress Oscar nomination, plays the foster kid living a hard-knock life in the multiethnic version of the Tony-winning 1977 Broadway musical that opens in U.S. movie theaters on Friday.

Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks is transformed from a 1930s industrialist into the workaholic telecoms tycoon Will Stacks, (Jamie Foxx), while actor Bobby Cannavale adds a topical, satirical edge as his scheming political campaign adviser.

The musical's famous songs get a pop music makeover, sprinkled with the sounds of street jackhammers and trash can lids, and Annie's fake parents are found in mass reality TV-style auditions.

Cannavale said the updates bring the beloved musical "to a contemporary American audience which is one of many different colors, shapes, sizes and ethnicities."

"It is really exciting that kids can go and see themselves now in this movie in a way they were not able to before," Cannavale told Reuters   Continued...

(L-R) Actor Jamie Foxx, and actresses Quvenzhane Wallis and Cameron Diaz pose for photographers during a photocall for their film Annie, in central London December 16, 2014.  REUTERS/Neil Hall