Filming for the motion picture has already begun in New York and San Francisco featuring many of the stars of the original Broadway production. Those reprising their roles for the film, which features a screenplay by director Columbus and Stephen Chbosky, include Taye Diggs (as Benjamin "Benny" Coffin III), Wilson Jermaine Heredia (as Angel Schunard), Jesse L. Martin (as Thomas B. "Thom" Collins), Idina Menzel (as Maureen Johnson), Adam Pascal (as Roger Davis) and Anthony Rapp (as Mark Cohen). Newcomers include Rosario Dawson as Mimi with Tracie Thoms as Joanne Jefferson. The roles of Mimi and Joanne were created on Broadway by, respectively, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Fredi Walker.
The "Rent" film is being produced for Revolution Studios by Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal and 1492 Pictures' Columbus, Mark Radcliffe and Michael Barnathan. Executive producers include Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, Allan S. Gordon and Lata Ryan, who produced the Broadway mounting. Julie Larson, the sister of the late Rent composer, is co-producer of the film.
Revolution Studios founder Joe Roth said in a statement, "Rent is one of the most influential musicals of this generation, and we are tremendously excited to be able to bring the film adaptation to the screen. Chris Columbus is the ideal filmmaker to deliver a faithful yet cutting-edge adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s compelling story to existing fans of the musical and to a brand new audience."
Co-producer Julie Larson added, "When we learned that Chris Columbus was going to be directing Rent, we were thrilled beyond belief. Everyone involved with the production has become part of our ever-expanding family, and we are all delighted that this movie will be the next chapter in the continuing legacy of Jonathan’s vision."
Chris Columbus' directorial credits include "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Home Alone" and "Stepmom." Rent updates Puccini's La Boheme to the East Village of the late 1990's, with artists and lovers struggling to connect in a world that is chaotic, shallow and tinged with disease. The late Jonathan Larson wrote Rent's book, music and lyrics. The 1996 Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning musical continues at the Nederlander Theatre in New York City.