Rehearsals began this summer for the picture's actors. The 17-week shooting schedule will take the cast and crew until Jan. 23. The movie is expected in U.S. theatres in December 2004.
As previously reported, Phantom will star Minnie Driver as cantankerous diva Carlotta; Broadway favorite Patrick Wilson as Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny; Emmy Rossum as Christine; and 33-year-old Scottish actor Gerard Butler as The Phantom.
Wilson received Tony nominations for his work in Oklahoma! and The Full Monty. The young actor will also star in HBO's six-hour adaptation of Tony Kushner's Angels in America as well as the Disney historical drama "The Alamo."
Driver is known for such films as "An Ideal Husband," "Good Will Hunting" and "Circle of Friends."
Already an acclaimed opera singer, Rossum has been performing with the Metropolitan Opera since the age of seven. She appeared in the television productions "The Audrey Hepburn Story," "Songcatcher" and "An American Rhapsody" and was recently seen in Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" at the Cannes Film Festival. Butler began his career on the stage opposite Ewan McGregor in the stage adaptation of "Trainspotting." His feature-film credits include "Mrs. Brown," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Dracula 2000" and "Reign of Fire."
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 seven 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.
The movie musical genre recently received a tremendous boost from "Chicago"'s triumph at the box office and at the Academy Awards, where it won the prize for Best Picture. Previous Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals to reach the screen include "Evita" and "Jesus Christ Superstar."