"Batman & Robin" Director Joel Schumacher To Bring Phantom to Movie Screens

News   "Batman & Robin" Director Joel Schumacher To Bring Phantom to Movie Screens Joel Schumacher will direct the feature-film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.

Screendaily.com reported the director of such films as "8 MM," "Batman & Robin," "Batman Forever" and "St. Elmo's Fire" will helm the stage-to-screen adaptation of the long-running London and Broadway musical. Lloyd Webber recently bought the Phantom film rights back from Warner Bros., and Austin Shaw, the managing director of Really Useful Films, is now in Los Angeles to begin casting the projected $50-$60 million film.

Shaw recently told Variety that Hugh Jackman ? scheduled to bow on Broadway next season in The Boy From Oz ? and Antonio Banderas, who will make his Broadway debut in the upcoming revival of Nine, head the list of possible title players. Tony Award winner Michael Crawford, who opened both the West End and New York productions, may now be a long shot for the role, due to his recent, critically savaged performance in this season's short-lived musical, Dance of the Vampires

About the upcoming movie, composer Lloyd Webber told screendaily.com, "I'm thrilled to have the rights back for the film version of Phantom and to have such a brilliant director on board. We now have the opportunity and the freedom to make the film that Joel and I have always talked about making." Filming is to begin next autumn in the United Kingdom.

Based on the classic Gaston Leroux novel, The Phantom of the Opera features music by Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart and additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe. Harold Prince directed both the London and New York premieres. The New York production ? originally starring Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman ? won six 1988 Tony Awards including one for Best Musical. The score includes such tunes as "Think of Me," "The Music of the Night," "All I Ask of You," "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," "The Point of No Return" and the title tune. Howard McGillin currently heads the Broadway company as the disfigured Phantom who falls in love with a naive chorus girl, Christine Daae.

One of the most successful composers in theatrical history, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Song & Dance, Aspects of Love, The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, Whistle Down the Wind and The Beautiful Game. He also co-produced Bombay Dreams, which is currently playing in London with an eye toward Broadway in 2004. Fans of original Phantom Michael Crawford have launched a lavish print and web campaign to urge Lloyd Webber and the film producers to consider Crawford for the film role (visit www.phantommovie.com).