Warner Bros. has landed the movie rights to Lin-Manuel Miranda's stage musical In the Heights. Miranda is best known these days for making U.S. history cool with Hamilton, but In the Heights was the show that made the beloved composer, lyricist, and actor's name. The musical hit Broadway in 2008 (though it began its theater run three years earlier) and was nominated for a whopping thirteen Tony Awards (it won four, including Best Musical). Universal was quick to snap up the film rights less than a year after the show's Broadway debut.
In the Heights features music and lyrics by Miranda, as well as a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes. The show takes place over the Fourth of July weekend in Washington Heights and follows Usnavi de la Vega (the role first played by Miranda), the owner of a small local bodega. Over the course of the show, the Heights' largely Latino-American citizens are stirred up into a ruckus by blackouts, financial concerns, romantic tensions, and the revelation that one of their neighbors has a winning lottery ticket.
The Weinstein Company picked up the In the Heights movie rights in 2016, some four years after Universal decided to cancel the project. Of course, everything changed when the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal broke last fall. Shortly after that, Hudes and Miranda asked TWC to allow them to shop the project to other studios. The pair finally got the film rights back in April and THR is confirming that the musical is now set up at Warner Bros. instead. Jon M. Chu, who was attached to direct the film back when it was set up at TWC, remains set to helm the movie.
According to THR, WB was one of several major studios that made a bid for the In the Heights movie. Miranda's name was no doubt a big selling point (maybe the big selling point) that attracted potential financiers to the film. Since his explosion in popularity thanks to Hamilton, Miranda has picked up an Oscar nomination for writing the songs to Disney's animated Moana and co-created the "Jabba Flow" number for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He's also costarring in Disney's musical sequel Mary Poppins Returns and the BBC's His Dark Materials TV series, in addition to providing the voice of Gizmoduck in Disney XD's DuckTales reboot series. Suffice it to say, the man is non-stop (... had to be done).
Chu, for his part, is fresh off directing this summer's Crazy Rich Asians movie for WB. He comes from a background in dance and music, having directed a pair of Step Up movies as well as the TV series The LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. Like Hamilton, In the Heights draws from an assortment of music styles (including, freestyle rap and salsa) and blends them with tight dance choreography. It will be difficult for a movie to capture the raw energy and vibe of the original stage show, but Chu is a worthy pick to try and handle the challenge.
We will bring you more details on In the Heights as they become available.