Will Smith Planning ‘Annie’ Remake With Jay-Z

Published 3 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:45 am,

Will Smith planning Annie remake Will Smith Planning Annie Remake With Jay Z

[Update: It's looking like Willow Smith will indeed play Annie in the remake.]

As the former Fresh Prince-turned-A-lister with multiple blockbusters under his belt, Will Smith likes to keep his children involved in the family business. His son Jaden is currently lined up to star in M. Night Shyamalan’s next film and now his daughter, Willow, could end up as the leading lady in a remake of the musical Annie.

Not only would this new spin on the tale of Little Orphan Annie feature the 10-year old Miss Smith in the titular role, but Willow’s “Whip My Hair” collaborator Jay-Z could lend his musical talents to the project as well.

Variety cites the success of last year’s Karate Kid remake, which starred Jaden, as having paved the way for a redo of the classic musical about a plucky young redhead who has unwavering confidence about the Earth’s ability to continually rotate around the Sun. Multiple Oscar-winninng director and screen legend John Huston helmed the most famous (or for some, infamous) theatrical version of Annie back in 1982 and the original stage show has long since been a popular choice for high schools to perform.

For an idea of the atmosphere and design of Huston’s take on Annie, watch that film’s version of the orphan-happy “It’s the Hard Knock Life” song and dance sequence below:

Now take a look at Jay-Z’s sampling of that original song for “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” to get a feel for how the Annie remake might differ from the 1982 film:

There’s no word yet as to whether the Annie remake will retain the original Depression-era setting and classic versions of tunes like “Tomorrow”, or whether the flick will be a contemporary re-envisioning with modernized songs by Jay-Z. Some moviegoers will consider it blasphemy if the remake changes a single thing from the original, while others will be infuriated by the mere idea of retooling one of the most widely-known musicals around – and of course there will be those that don’t have especially strong feelings about the project either way.

Which camp do you fall into? Does this remake of Annie sound really cool, terrible, or mostly just uninteresting? Be sure to share your thoughts with us (keep them civil, please) in the comments section below and on Twitter @screenrant and @feynmanguy.

Source: Variety

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  1. Real question is, does anyone really think Smith’s kids would get the roles they get without dad or mom?

    • I can’t say for sure but I doubt it..Will Smith has some MAJOR pull in Hollywood..I’d go as far to say that he could get anyone he wants in any film he wants made right now..that is some serious clout!! I don’t think Jaden Smith is talented at all but that is just my opinion..there are lots of people working in Hollywood that lack talent..it is just a glorified popularity contest..It’s great because if I don’t want to see these films or read articles concerning them then I can chose to ignore them. I haven’t seen Willow Smith in anything but why anyone would want their kids surrounded by sycophants and parasites is beyond me..

      • I think that’s why he does it. He’s helping his kids figure out what they want to do in life and help them chase after their dream. We can talk about the negatives, but from a parenting stand point, he’s doing the best he can to help his kids succeede. No different than many politicians or actors who come from political/acting families.

        I say, let the man help his kids. There are a lot worse things parents are doing/not doing for their kids these days.

        • I have to disagree to a certain extent with you..how many kids at ten know what “their calling” is..I didn’t, my kids want to be something different everyday..My 8 year old started playing guitar a year ago and he has serious talent(I’ve played for 25 years)..so much so we are taking him to a guy who will try to get him to focus and make the most of his ability but I don’t want a celebrity life for him if he proves to be that good..He has impresed a lot of people so far and they can’t believe he is just 8(that’s what keeps it all in perspective for my wife and I).A lot of this is driven by their parents and seriously what kid aged 8-12 doesn’t like to always be the center of attention?..Smith is not helping them recognize a dream..he’s turning them into younger versions of what he and his wife are..

          • Let the kids find their own path, just be there to GUIDE them. Guiding them and handing them things on a silver platter are two different things.

            • Amen

          • According to my dad, he knew what he wanted to do at 11. Me, I’m 30 and still figuring out what I want to do. So, that I understand. I just know that if it wasn’t for dad and others giving me a chance because of who my dad is, I would not have had some of the opportunities I have had in life to get where I am.

            That’s why I don’t see it the way you two do. Which is fine. I don’t think he’s handing anything to them simply because the movie business does not seem to be just about making movies but making movies that are successful, so I see that they still have to prove themselves in the role. Something I thought Jaden did well in Karate Kid.

            • Guidance is completely different from opening doors left, right and center..The Smith’s are probably doing both but the question was would they be getting these opportunities if their parents weren’t the Smiths and the answer is no..I’m not disagreeing completely with you..it’s nice he can do that for them but it in no way means they earned it..if they are still doing it 20 years from now then they obviously had talent to begin with..

              • oh yea, if he wasn’t their dad, no way would they get the opportunities they have.

          • I knew what my calling was at 3 years old. I heard Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love and Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze using headphones. I heard all the guitars and effects panning back and forth in my head, went to my parents, played it for them, and said, “I don’t know what this is called, but I want to do that for a living.” I was told it was being a recording engineer. I was lucky enough to live that dream.

          • actually, in the artistic field, MANY 10-yr olds know what their life calling is.

            • of course they do …

            • Yeah…just look at cool aol Michael Jackson.

  2. I do not like Will Smith and adding Jay Z to it make some care even less. While Jay is a good rapper his stealing, I mean sampling of the Annie song shows what lack of originality he has. Smith seems like he is just spending is money making his kids into stars. Good luck, I am sure that there are no stories of that having any downside.
    Someone earlier mentioned The Wiz and I guess that is a good comparison, but the Wiz was done when there was not the minority representation that we have in entertainment today.

    • Yeah, because a rapper making a song using the musical ‘Annie’ as a sample wasn’t original… Rappers do that all the time…

      And Tyler Perry and BET do not factor in for me, as an African-American, as “Minority representation.” As far as I’m concerned, African-Americans like myself (educated, middle-class, familiar with a diverse range of experience) are hardly represented in media.

      • I’m aboriginal and there isn’t even a fraction of the representation in the entertainment/media industry for us as there is for African-American or Hispanics or anyone else..do I care? Not really..It doesn’t change my life in any way if the CBS News anchor is Cherokee/Metis/Beothuck/Miq Mak…My sense of self is in no way a reflection of how many of my race are represented by mass media.

        People get way too sensitive on some threads here and some people just want to stir the pot and elicit just this type of reaction.

        Sampling music IMO is not original..it is taking an already existing product and tweaking it and then passing it off as original and creative..doesn’t mean it is not enjoyable because some of it is very good..it’s just not original..it just a glorified rerecording

        • All artistic creation, by its very nature, is a form of Sampling.

          It’s why every artist is asked and answers the question “Who/What inspired you?”

          “New Art” is built on the foundation of art that came before it. People who “write songs” write based off sounds and chords that influenced them and stuck in their minds.

          I never understand the point people try to make about Rap samples vs. say, classic rock. Every classic rocker out there will admit to the sounds and musicians they emulated to create their music.

          • All good points Kofi BUT there is one thing to be influenced by a genre and it’s another to take an existing pice of art and add something else to it and then admire how original it is..Stevie Ray Vaughn was a huge fan of Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, etc and he did a wonderful job on songs from all three artists..he NEVER passed it off as a great original piece of music, he paid tribute, paid royalties and tipped his hat to those that inspired him..I can’t say the same for a lot of the sampling that goes on today because Sean Combs(just an example) could not have made Come With Me or I’ll Be Watching You (both of which I really like) without The Zepplin or Police tunes to begin with. I will give a little and say that what they are doing is an extension to an existing artform but it’s not “New Art” .I think they give far too little kudos to the tracks that they use ..also Stevie put out some great original blues and rock music without copying anyone else..he may have been an amalgam of all his inspirations but his original songs were just that, they were/are his ..I’d rather Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder or any music (not sampling) based artist that uses his influences to truly create new art..

            It’s all subjective in the end…

          • There is a difference between reinterpreting someone else’s composition and just hacking up a file and re-playing it.

            If I do an edit of the Godfather using the DVD as my source, it does not make me as talented a film maker as Coppolla.

            Now if I reinterpret the movie “Be Kind and Rewind” style, well at least that has some imagination and creativity to it.

  3. For me the only reason this wouldn’t work casting a black girl as Annie is that it is unrealistic that a rich, powerful, and staunch Republican n the 1930′s (character of Daddy Warbucks) would keep a young black orphan in his home. Maybe I am wrong, but unless he had a HUGE change of heart about his prejudices, I don’t think it is that realistic.

    • Well, just like all other remakes/reboots they’ll update it to be PC.

      • So will it be Obama instead of FDR?

        • Geez anything about someone who is black been casted in a movie everyone always bring up Obama.

          • Wasn’t me :)

          • If they update it, it wouldn’t make sense to use FDR.

    • Dident strom thurmond father a bi racial little girl with his black maid? And Strom thurmond was one of the staunchest politicians and segregationists in American history.

      So no its not really a stretch…I mean it would probably be more realistic if Annies benefactor was an older white man with power.

  4. Thanks Kebook, that’s pretty much what I meant. :)

  5. will smith is pretty much irrelevant in today’s entertainment world. he should just sit back and collect his residuals from “fresh prince..” and stop foisting his wife and kids on an unsuspecting public. that said, his son did do a good job in the “karate kid” re-boot, but he had jackie chan to inter-act with and not a potentially inappropriate jay-z “soundtrack”. so,will: don’t be up to no good and start makin’ trouble in “annie’s” hood!!

    • How is he irrelevant? His movies make gobs of cash.

      • He is at the top of Hollywood’s A-list that much is for sure..

    • Agreed.

  6. Pass.

  7. With that kinda logic Vic why not cast the new Three Stooges film with Asians?

    Anyone who has a problem with it must be rascist to some degree,,,

    • i agree with that logic.

      Or what if Shaft was recast with Freddie Prinze Jr. in the title role? Would that be racist?

      • @Santa

        Shaft a great character and the best white actor u think of to play him is Freddie Prinze Jr.

        u could not even said Bruce Willis as Shaft thats more accpetable but Freddie Prinze Jr. woah stop complaining

        • Or michael chikless (the guy from the shield and thing from fantastic 4) He would make a good shaft in my opinion.

    • well that would be interesting since Asians never get a fair trial to play certain roles.

  8. Let’s get Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Robert Downey Jr can play a famous Asian actor playing a famous asian American actor.

    The Three Stooges!
    Herro, herro,,,,

    Herro,,,,

    herro!

    :)

    • LOL

    • Well robert downey jr. played a black man in Tropic Thunder and i thought he was damn good and funny- Im african american. But lets be realistic your mocking the situation you could at least pick better actors to play those roles instead of naming guys just because their asian.

  9. karate kid was horrible – jacket on, jacket off(jack it on jack it off)

  10. Well I think we’ve reached the level of mockery at this point.

    106 commets over Annie,,, wow!

  11. Seriously a remake of Annie with hip hop? not the best idea to ever come out of smith’s head. It’s not supposed to be Hip Hop it’s meant to be like the 1982 version. I hope he reconsiders!! SERIOUSLY!!

  12. The Smith family has the right to do what ever they see fit in movies as long as people pay thier tickets to see them, the market will determine if they continue or not regardless of race or color. The Karate Kid remake was bold and I believe the main character was to young but it worked, Annie on the other hand is perhaps to Iconic to change people have to remember the Disney Annie picture was a big flop and it stay true to source material. Would a Jay Z musical score add anything to musicals? Perhaps but make an original story about an african american orphan girl, now that would be something to see.

    • If we can agree that there are really, in essence, only a few stories being told in our culture, then you can begin to see how natural reinterpretations are. I agree that a simple remake is pretty boring idea. “Psycho” was remade, and the director was obsessive with the shots looking the same… weird. However, human life is full of replicas.. but why would you want to make that? It’s money. New music, new perspectives, and risk taking can make any project interesting. The American public loves to watch remakes. It isn’t Will Smith and Jay Z making this movie… it’s you and I.

  13. Oh, good lord. Yet another remake? We’re a half step away from “A New Hope.” I just know it.

  14. If Will Smith’s daughter is young enough, wouldn’t surprise me to see remakes of Shirley Temple Movies too.

  15. *facepalm*

  16. I am sick and tired of movies getting remade starring black people.
    I am not racist, I just think that people need to come up with original ideas.
    not direct copies with an all black cast. I hate how just because your parents are movie stars instantly makes their kids stars… This is BS.

    • I don’t think the concept behind it is to be as “Black” as you describe. You say you’re not a racist but, If the cast of this remake were white, would you feel the same? This is not about race. It is simply about showcasing classics to this generation. The only difference between now and then is blacks are allowed to do business in Hollywood now. They always had the money and brains. Also, there were a lot of black writers that helped bring this film to life.

  17. This is retarded idea. Will smith stop getting your kids in the business and just make independence day 2 already. This will be just as terrible as Karate Kid.

  18. Im still skeptical about Smith & Fox makin a sequel to Independence Day. I mean what can they do in the 2nd film that would be as great as the first film? I mean most of America & countries worldwide were pretty much trashed by the end so how many years would it take place where cities 7 everything is rebuilt? I hope Will & Jada’s kids asked to do movies etc. because other than that they should be enjoying their childhood while they can. I know if i was a celebrity id encourage my kids to wait till they’re older but enjoy their childhood for now. Thats just me though. Some child stars had a hard life, few with careers took awhile to recover if any.

  19. It won’t be a remake if they use new songs, a musical remkae just doesn’t work that way. It would just be a adaption of the old comic strips but in a second musical version. But it’s unrealistic this idea, if it’s set modern day well who really keeps orphans like that and is mean to them and if it’s set during the Great Depression then I’m sorry but Annie will have racist comments towards her because of the time. It just doesn’t work Will, you a great guy but it just doesn’t work and please don’t go ahead and be all stereotypical and say “the colour of the skin doesn’t matter”, it’s true it doesn’t, but Annie isn’t black. And if it’s anything it’s got to be a remake of the original film and musical

  20. I think jay z should go into urban or city communities to audition children that would know what’s the hard knock life is all about. I believe this would make the movie more interesting and believable! It doesn’t have to be all! But at least Annie! I love jay z, he usually always reach out to children and his communities than any artist I know!

  21. If it’s anything like “The Karate Kid” with Jayden Smith, it won’t be a remake at all– it will be a complete new idea that claims the title of an original classic for publicity. Given his success with the former, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being a fully original musical about a young girl of limited means… but for the love of God, why call it “Annie” ? Why not create something new instead of buying into this idea that every new movie has to be a bloody remake!

  22. i was almost ok with it until I saw this mans name: Shyamalan.

    its gonna suck.