Hugh Jackman has been attached to the P.T. Barnum biopic The Greatest Showman on Earth since 2009, but the film has taken a long time to come into fruition. At one point Twentieth Century Fox had eyed a summer 2015 start date for production, and that obviously did not happen. However, now it would appear that the pieces are falling into place. Over the summer, Showman's supporting cast started to round into shape, with the likes of Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya joining the project. The studio has also claimed a Christmas 2017 release date.
There's still plenty of work left to be done during the pre-production phase, and that includes filling in any roles that remain vacant. Today, one of last year's breakout stars, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation's Rebecca Ferguson, secured one of those parts and is set to join the star-studded ensemble.
According to The Wrap, Ferguson has signed on to play Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, who was a prominent figure in music during the 19th century. In 1850, the real life Lind first arrived in America per Barnum's invitation. She performed 93 large-scale concerts under his management, donating her profits to various charitable organizations. It is unknown how substantial Ferguson's screen time in Greatest Showman would be, but going by history, Lind should be a key supporting role for the actress. It will also be quite a change-of-pace from her physically-demanding turn in Rogue Nation, giving Ferguson an opportunity to display her range.
While Greatest Showman has several talented people in front of the cameras, some questions remain about the man calling the shots. Michael Gracey will make his feature film debut with the project, after spending most of his time in the industry as a visual effects artist and supervisor. Granted, there are plenty of instances where a director's first movie turned out great, but a grand musical based on the life of a famed personality like Barnum seems very ambitious for a first-timer. Fortunately, the screenplay was penned by veteran writer Michael Arndt, who won an Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine. Arndt also worked on acclaimed films like Toy Story 3, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He's shown time and time again he's a more than capable at crafting entertaining and heartfelt stories.
Plus, with Fox slating Greatest Showman for next year's holiday season, they must have some confidence in its potential quality. Musicals have found a great deal of success during that time of year in the past; Into the Woods brought in $128 million domestically in 2014, while Les Miserables grossed an impressive $148.8 million Stateside. Both of those films also found traction on the awards circuit, and a Barnum biopic certainly sounds like an Oscar player on-paper. The Academy loves films about show business, after all.
So for now, one has to look at Greatest Showman and be encouraged by how it's all coming together. The project is attracting some in-demand names, and Jackman seems tailor made for the role of Barnum. He's obviously passionate about this film and wants to see it done well. It's worth noting that Jackman is also producing Greatest Showman, and if he feels this is the right team to roll with, moviegoers should give him the benefit of the doubt.
The Greatest Showman on Earth opens in U.S. theaters December 25, 2017.
Source: The Wrap