Sam Mendes Expected to Direct Film of Sweeney Todd

News   Sam Mendes Expected to Direct Film of Sweeney Todd Sam Mendes, director of Broadway's Gypsy and Hollywood's "American Beauty," is expected to direct the feature film of Stephen Sondheim's musical, Sweeney Todd, according to Variety.
Sam Mendes.
Sam Mendes. (Photo by Aubrey Reuben)

The trade paper reported Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald will produce for DreamWorks. Director Tim Burton was attached to a film version for the musical tale of the so-called "Demon Barber of Fleet Street," but the pic fell through.

Now that the movie musical, "Chicago," has won the Best Picture Academy Award, the climate seems right for film musicals again, leading producers and directors to explore all kinds of dormant and new titles.

Talk in the community has playwright-screenwriter John Logan (Hauptmann, Never the Sinner and the films "Gladiator," "RKO 281" and "Any Given Sunday") prepping a "Sweeney Todd" screenplay.

Casting is being discussed. One name bandied about in Hollywood (and by fans) for the title role is Hugh Jackman, the Australian musical theatre actor (London's Oklahoma! and Broadway's The Boy From Oz) and action-film star ("X-Men"). Jackman would seem to be an appropriate crossover actor for a role that requires a star to sing and slash the throats of unsuspecting victims.

Variety reported that Mendes wants to direct the movie and that "early talks" are underway toward the Mendes DreamWorks partnership. The stage musical bowed on Broadway March 1979 and starred Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury in the roles of the vengeful Sweeney and the venal Mrs. Lovett, his neighbor and partner in crime.

The 19th-century-London-set show was inspired by the Christopher Bond play based on the gothic London legend. Harold Prince directed, Hugh Wheeler penned the book and Sondheim wrote music and lyrics. Standout songs include "Pretty Women," "By the Sea," "Not While I'm Around," "A Little Priest," "Wait," "Green Finch and Linnet Bird," "Johanna," "The Worst Pies in London."

The show earned 1979 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actress and Best Actor, Best Director, Best Book, Best Score, Best Set Designer and Best Costume Designer.