Variety reports that The Phantom of the Opera ? one of Lord Lloyd Webber's most successful stage ventures ? is aiming for an October start. Lloyd Webber recently bought the Phantom film rights back from Warner Bros., and Austin Shaw, who is the managing director of Really Useful Films, is now in Los Angeles to begin casting the projected $50-$60 million film. Shaw told the industry paper that Hugh Jackman ? scheduled to bow on Broadway 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.
Shaw also said that Lloyd Webber's most recent West End musical, The Beautiful Game, is aiming for an October screen start as well. Ben Elton, who wrote that show's book and lyrics, has completed a draft of the script. Elton previously described the short-lived musical thusly: "Set in Belfast mainly between 1969 and 1972, [The Beautiful Game] concerns the fortunes of a group of young men and women centered around a local youth football team ? these young people have the misfortune to come of age at the beginning of a time of terrible trouble in Northern Ireland and the drama follows their efforts to live their lives against a backdrop of ever increasing sectarian division and violence. Some of the characters are drawn into the conflict, others stand aside wanting only to be allowed to get on with their lives in peace."
Serbian director Srdjan Dragojevic ("Pretty Village, Pretty Flames") has been lined up to direct Beautiful Game. Says Really Useful's Shaw, "[Dragojevic is] wonderful, and has a very clear vision of what he wants to do. And because Srdjan is from another conflict altogether, he doesn't bring any prejudices." The film will be shot in Northern Ireland, most likely with a cast of young, unknown Irish actors.
There have also been stage-to-screen discussions of two other Lloyd Webber musicals, Sunset Boulevard, which itself is based on the classic Billy Wilder black-and-white film; and Aspects of Love, which has a film script written by Indiscretions's Jeremy Sams. There are no directors or film dates attached to either of these two projects, however.
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.