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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - You better shape up, "Grease" fans. Or, at least, you better shape up your singing voices, because what you once may have done only in the shower, you will soon be able to do in movie theaters.
Paramount Pictures, the film studio behind the hit movie that remains one of the highest grossing musicals of all-time with nearly $400 million at global box offices, will soon unveil a sing-a-long version of the film in theaters.
Starting on July 8, the studio begins a run of the new, interactive "Grease" in major U.S. cities, and it is hoping the film's legions of fans around the world will demand the kids of Rydell High School, including stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, turn up on movie screens in their own hometowns.
Randal Kleiser, who directed the 1978 movie based on a hit Broadway play of the same name, ties the film's enduring popularity to upbeat songs such as "You're the One That I Want" and "Summer Nights" and the film's universal tale of young love.
After a long absence from movie theaters, musicals have seen a resurgence in recent years in the form of "High School Musical," "Mamma Mia!", and current TV hit "Glee," among others. On Broadway, musicals such as Tony winner "Memphis," rock band Green Day's "American Idiot" and critical hit "Fela!" have wowed a fresh new set of fans.
"I think the current resurgence in musicals today is because of the state of the world economy," Kleiser said. "If you look at other times of economic hardships, audiences flocked to movies to escape from the dire circumstances around them. Musicals are the ultimate escape."
Kleiser said he has attended several special screenings of "Grease" in which fans have been encouraged to sing to the movie and, at times, people have shown up in costumes dressed like teen sweethearts Danny (Travolta) and Sandy (Newton-John).
For the new version, Paramount also has remastered the original film, sharpening the picture and colors, putting the audio into surround sound and even putting "pop-up" graphics such as hearts and kisses on screen.
The sing-a-long version will hit major U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle and Dallas, and if it's not in your city, you can "demand it" at www.eventful.com/grease.
Editing by Jill Serjeant