Producers Ileen Maisel and Bob Balaban are developing a film remake of South Pacific, which will capture the harsh realities of the World War II battles, while still keeping the Rodgers and Hammerstein score intact. Variety first broke the news.
"Our movie will be a tougher, more realistic retelling of the same classic story of two very different people whose love for each other transcends their enormous cultural differences. We think there's a whole new audience just waiting to fall in love with its magical score, epic romance and exotic locale," Balaban said.
Maisel added "Producing a new version of South Pacific allows an audience to explore war and racism in a safe and engaging way that will ultimately bring greater understanding to these important topics of our time."
Maisel and Balaban, who were inspired by the current Broadway revival of the musical, are working with Imagem's Denis Wigman (which owns the R&H copyrights) and Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization president Ted Chapin on the film.
Director Bartlett Sher earned his first Tony Award for the 2008 Broadway revival of South Pacific, which currently plays Lincoln Center Theater's Vivian Beaumont. Sher also returned to Michener's original tome "Tales of the South Pacific" to deliver a gripping, less rosy account of the musical. South Pacific premiered on Broadway in 1949 starring Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, earning nine Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize. The musical was adapted for film in 1958 with Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi. A made-for-television incarnation in 2001 starred Glenn Close and Rade Serbedzija.
The current Broadway revival will be broadcast live on Aug. 18 as part of "Live from Lincoln Center."
Based on James Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories "Tales of the South Pacific," the musical focuses on French plantation owner Emile de Becque and his love interest, Nellie Forbush, a naïve young nurse from Arkansas. Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, South Pacific offers a lushly romantic score while challenging audiences with themes of racial intolerance and bigotry.
South Pacific's score includes numerous American songbook classics, including "Some Enchanted Evening," "Wonderful Guy," "Younger Than Springtime," "Happy Talk," "Bali H'ai" and "There Is Nothing Like a Dame."