LONDON (Reuters) - Hit movie versions of Broadway musicals are rare but the creators of the Disney film of Stephen Sondheim’s revered “Into the Woods” are hoping its smash opening in the United States will be replicated abroad.
The film starring Meryl Streep as the Witch, Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife and Johnny Depp as a louche Wolf is approaching the $100 million box-office mark since its Christmas Day opening, its producers said on the eve of its British premiere.
The film earned more on its first weekend than the movie versions of the Abba musical “Mamma Mia!” or “Les Miserables”, according to industry website Box Office Mojo.
“It’s been a great journey and from a business perspective we’re delighted that it is reaching a very, very broad audience,” co-producer Marc Platt said on Wednesday.
“As a little anecdote, I actually called Steve Sondheim and James Lapine (who wrote the book) the day after it opened on Christmas Day and was able to say to each of them that in that one day more people saw the film than experienced it in its two Broadway runs combined,” Platt told a news conference.
It was never certain that “Into the Woods” — an amalgam of familiar fairytales including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk which do not turn out as expected — would make it to the screen.
Director and co-producer Rob Marshall spent years trying to pull together a cast and get studio backing for a film version of the musical, which opened on Broadway in 1987.
“It took time because you know musicals are still a risk and Sondheim musicals are few and far between,” Marshall said.
“We brought it to Disney and we were excited that they were interested in redefining what a modern fairytale could be for their company. We weren’t sure that would be the case and it was, which was thrilling, but we had to make it for a price.”
He said cast members had agreed to “cut their price” to appear in the film, which was made in just 55 days.
Streep, who said she swam a mile a day to build up her lungs in preparation for singing in the film, said Marshall had combined the “big sound” of Hollywood with the intimacy of Broadway.
“To have them married in one filmic language, that’s unusual,” she said. “You can imagine how badly this could have gone if it were just presented in the Broadway way.”
Editing by Gareth Jones