Emma Thompson Wanted To Script Will Smith’s ‘Annie’ Remake

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 13th, 2013 at 11:32 am,

Will Smith and Jay-Z are still fully determined to press ahead with their plans for a remake of the beloved comic-strip-turned-radio-show-turned-stage-musical-turned-movie-musical Annie, with Willow Smith taking on the role of the iconic (traditionally red-haired) orphan.

The two are reportedly in the midst of negotiations with multiple Osar-winning actress/screenwriter Emma Thompson (who’s been working recently with Smith on Men in Black III) to script the new version of the musical.

Vulture indicates that Thompson would in essence be re-adapting the screenplay for director John Huston’s 1982 film version of Annie – which was itself based on Thomas Meehan’s book for the Tony Award-winning stage play that opened in 1977.

While Thompson has a long and impressive resume as an Academy Award-winning actress, she’s also a highly decorated screenwriter. Besides her script work on Ang Lee’s 1995 Sense and Sensibility adaptation (which also landed her an Oscar), Thompson also penned the acclaimed TV movie version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit, did uncredited work on Joe Wright’s 2005 Pride and Prejudice adaptation, and scripted both of the kid-friendly Nanny McPhee movies – which she also starred in.

On that note: the Vulture article also speculated that if Thompson does write the new version of Annie, she could be up to star in the film too – possibly in the role of Miss Hannigan, the boozing, child-hating head of the orphanage where Annie resides. That certainly sounds like a good idea, as Thompson could be hilariously horrible in that part, following in the footsteps of Carol Burnett (whose turn as the drunken caretaker is arguably the best part of Huston’s original movie).

Case in point: Check out Burnett as Miss Hannigan in the “Little Girls” number from the 1982 Annie movie below:

Smith and Jay-Z may seem like an odd couple to bring an old-fashioned musical like Annie back to the big screen, but the two are fresh (no pun) from┬áco-producing the multiple Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical Fela!. Jay-Z also famously created his own variation on the famous Annie tune “It’s the Hard Knock Life” a few years back, and he will reportedly lend his musical talents to this new cinematic musical as well. Presumably that means Jay-Z will significantly re-work the film’s songs, so as to infuse them with a more contemporary feel and sound. Take that as you will.

Jaden Smith has already benefited from his father’s fame, having been given his own (successful) starring vehicle last year – in the form of another remake, The Karate Kid. Likewise, Willow Smith has already started a career in musical performance (see: “Whip My Hair”) and looks to benefit professionally from headlining Annie. Karate Kid surprised many a moviegoer last year by being a solid reworking of a much-loved story – so maybe Annie can do likewise.

Despite candidates like Glee‘s Ryan Murphy being courted as a potential director, there is currently no one officially onboard to helm the new version of Annie. Look for that to change in the relatively near future, as pre-production on the project really gets underway.

Source: Vulture

TAGS: Annie
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  1. I don’t respect Will Smith anymore. He needs to stop exploiting his talentless Kids and I despise his montrous wife as well.

    By the way Im black, so don’t drop the race card on me please.

  2. Timeless Story. I believe in Emma Thompson. What a Talented Woman. :)

    • I agree, Emma is awesome… Spit on Helena Carter may she rot in hell. I keep holding my breath regarding Will Smith that he will morph into Eddie Murphy (Pluto Nash). Yes Wild Wild West had that Nash Stink, but he has bounced back with movies that could have ended in Leonard Part 6 land, but I am Legend was much better than I expected and His kid did a great job in KK.
      Sorry if this is a remake of the musical, if they actually made a film based on Annie, this would be perfect timing, but only if they maintained the original concept.

  3. I like Will Smith but i am getting a bit bored with him taking on movies and throwing his children into the starring role, look at Karate Kid which he produced and now this and beside isn’t Annie a white girl, no i am not black i am a white person and if you wish to throw the Racist thing my way thats your choice but i stick to my guns and as will smith himself said when offered the role of Superman before Superman Returns was being made ‘AN ICONIC CHARACTER SHOULD NOT BE MESSED WITH, HAVING A BLACK PERSON PLAY A WHITE CHARACTER IS TOO BIG OF A CHANGE.’ and he is right a black superman would be too different much like a Black Doctor Who or a female Doctor Who. Annie though is another film that has been grabbed by the reboot plague that is running across Hollywood, we need to find a cure for this fatal disease before its too late and we start getting reboots just years after the films that they are rebooting (Spiderman/Superman)

    • Why can’t you have a black Doctor Who? If he transforms, who’s to say that a man of color doesn’t exist within his species. But Superman? Yeah, that was a bad idea from the start.

  4. Emma: don’t do it don’t do it don’t do it….

    Everybody else: don’t see it don’t see it don’t see it…

  5. Anyone else reminded of that episode of South Park where all the ginger kids protest the adaptation of Annie that starred a little brunette girl?

    Anyway, race doesn’t matter for this part. I’ve defended all the white-washing Hollywood does of anime adaptations in the past, so it’d be hypocritical of me to say otherwise here.

  6. Oh, look, how original…. another remake…… Now just to put his kids in it, again……. Does he have to buy the rights to the old movie? Even if he just uses the name? Or is it after so long that it is free to do whatever with? It saddens me to think that all the classics out there may suffer the same fate. I swear with all the remakes, that sometimes I think the writing strike never ended.

  7. Ridiculous that classics need to be remade to “appeal” kids, the problem is that Hollywood wants to revamp and remake everything and with Will Smith’s name on it this will make money just like Karate Kid did a couple of years ago. The problem is that it won’t be the same movie, the music will be changed, the characters will be changed, the setting will be changed and importantly the message of the movie will be changed just by those factors.

  8. I’m excited to see what can come of Will Smith’s new film with Jay-Z. I played Annie as a kid back in the day, and even made a screen test and several call backs for the title role in the original film. I now work in production as a Coordinator and would give anything to work on this version – not to mention, I think it’s wonderful to see how today’s young stars and loved music styles can be incorporated to the youth of today. Let’s get kids involved in theatre and the love of musicals again, even if it means taking on a fresh, new style! I say go for it, and … find me if you need a Coordinator – or an awesome office or casting / kids assistant. :) I would love to help make this dream come true! – Either way, can’t wait to see it come to be.

  9. Does it really matter who writes this garbage? Its Will Smith, putting his kid in a remake, because remakes come with build-in audiences and hence, if his kid should be bad, the movie is still not gonna go in the red, cuz hey! Its ANNIE! By WILL SMITH and JAY-Z!
    I know nepotism isnt exactly a new thing in Hollywood, but something about the way Will does it is just… Kinda gross.

  10. I am a huge Annie fan and always been since I was 9 or 10 years old. I like all of will Smith’s film he is really good. Ain’t Annie white though plus I’m white also. NO I”M NOT RACIST AGAINST ANYONE BEING BLACK TO PLAY THE RED HEAD ANNIE. I just like original films and it was remade in 1999 by Walt Disney starring Alicia Morton as Annie and Victor Garbor as Daddy Warbucks which I didn’t like it cause it was too MUCH SUGAR COATED. In my opinion I liked and still do like Annie (1982) staring Aileen Quinn, Ann Reinking, Carol Burnett, Geoffrey Holder, Tim Curry, Edward Herman and Berratte Peters. I also Like the Sequel Annie 2: A royal Adventure. In my opinion if Columbia wants to make another Annie movie it should be a part 3 and have Willow Smith playing as a girl that hangs with Annie NOT ANOTHER REMAKE staring Willow. In my opinion this is what I think of the Annie Remake