10 Movie Musicals We Can't Wait to See on the Silver Screen (2021 Edition)

Some will be available on Netflix or HBO Max.

movie musicals

(SPOT.ph) It cannot be denied that watching live theater is a multi-sensory experience. The best ones combine bright lights and colorful backdrops, orgasmic musical scoring, spot-on acting by performers, and overall awesomeness, leaving everyone talking even years after their run. Plus, the audience that claps, gasps, and goes wow (sometimes, boo) add a different layer to the experience. Movie musical adaptations, on the other hand, give a different take on shows we love—especially if they’re successful in taking on the challenge of compressing a three-hour live musical into a two-hour film while taking advantage of various cinematic techniques. And, yes, actors still break into a song.

In the next few years, Broadway and West End fans will be treated to an exciting lineup of movie musical adaptations that will surely be remembered. Only a handful of them have a release date, but the rest are already in the early production stages. 

Also read: 10 Exciting Netflix Movies of 2021, Ranked By How Many Brain Cells Are Needed to Watch It

We can't wait to see these 10 movie musicals we this year and beyond:

West Side Story

Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Tony Kushner
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno
Release Date: December 10, 2021

Originally scheduled for release on December 18, 2020, the new film adaptation by Steven Spielberg of Stephen Sondheim’s 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story is finally set to premiere on December 10. It was first adapted on the big screen in 1961 and won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, Supporting Actor and Actress, among many others. West Side Story, dubbed as the Romeo and Juliet of 1950s New York, follows the forbidden love story of Maria (Rachel Zegler) and Tony (Ansel Elgort) who fall in love at first sight during a party attended by their rival groups.

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In the Heights

Director: Jon M. Chu
Screenplay by: Quiara Alegría Hudes
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Stephanie Beatriz, Gregory Diaz IV, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Olga Merediz, Dascha Polanco, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jimmy Smits
Release Date: June 18, 2021

With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights features the colorful life of a largely Hispanic-American neighborhood in Washington Heights in New York City. At the center of the show is Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos), a young bodega owner who has mixed feelings about closing his store and leaving the tight-knit community behind. The film adaptation was supposed to be distributed by The Weinstein Company, but Miranda and co-playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes opted to bring it elsewhere following the Harvey Weinstein scandal. It was eventually auctioned off to Warner Bros. Pictures, which is releasing the film on HBO Max at the same time as a theatrical premiere. It was originally scheduled for commercial release on June 26, 2020, but we all know that last year was a big blur. 

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Tick, Tick...Boom!

Director: Steven Levenson
Screenplay by: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry, Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light, Alexandra Shipp, Bradley Whitford
Release Date: TBA (2021)

If you loved Rent, then you’d definitely love Tick, Tick...Boom! (if you don't already). The latter is Jonathan Larson's semi-autobiographical musical, which tells of the sacrifices he made to achieve his big break in theater. It was first performed as a monologue under the titled Boho Days in 1990, six years before Rent went on to win the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, and Drama Desk Award. After Larson unexpectedly died the morning of Rent’s first preview performance (his big break), playwright David Auburn revised Tick, Tick…Boom as a three-character play that opened Off-Broadway in 2001. The adaptation, which is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s movie directorial debut, is part of Netflix's lineup for 2021 as revealed in a teaser on January 12. 

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Dear Evan Hansen 

Director: Stephen Chbosky
Screenplay: Steven Levenson
Cast: Ben Platt, Amy Adams, Gerald Caesar, DeMarius Copes, Kaitlyn Dever, Nik Dodani, Liz Kate, Julianne Moore, Danny Pino, Isaac Powell, Colton Ryan, Amandla Stenberg
Release Date: September 24, 2021

Ben Platt reprises his Tony-winning performance as Evan Hansen, a teenager with social anxiety who yearns for human connection to the point of fabricating a relationship with a deceased student. The Broadway run premiered in November 2017 and went on to win six Tony Awards including Best Musical; while the West End run opened in November 2019 and won three Laurence Olivier Awards (also including Best New Musical). The adaptation casts Julianne Moore as Evan's mom Heidi. 

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Director: Jonathan Butterell
Screenplay: Tom MacRae
Cast: Richard E. Grant, Max Harwood, Sharon Horgan, Sarah Lancashire

At this point, everybody's talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie after the movie adaptation's official release date (October 23, 2020) got postponed to January 22, then again to February 26, and finally—no one knows anymore since cinemas haven't reopened. Taking after the stage musical of the same name, it follows 16-year-old Jamie New and his dreams of becoming a drag queen.

Cyrano

Director: Joe Wright
Screenplay: Erica Schmidt
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Brian Tyree Henry, Ben Mendelsohn
Release Date: 2022

Filming for Cyrano, which is based on Erica Schmidt's 2018 stage musical adaptation of Edmond Rostand's 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac, pushed through in late 2020 in Sicily with pandemic-era protocols. Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones fame plays the titular role—a cadet and a man of many talents, but insecure of his physical features. Haley Bennett plays Roxanne, the love of Cyrano's life. 

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The Little Mermaid

Director: Rob Marshall
Screenplay: David Magee
Cast: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Awkwafina, Daveed Diggs, Noma Dumezweni, Jacob Tremblay, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem

It was in 1989 when Disney started their The Little Mermaid franchise with an animated feature film. The movie later had two sequels (2000 and 2008), a television series (1992), a Broadway musical (2008) with music by Alan Menken, and a made-for-TV musical special (2019). The latest adaptation, which is reported to feature songs penned by Menken and Howard Ashman from the original film, is also offering new tracks co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Spamalot

Director: Casey Nicholaw
Screenplay: Eric Idle

The 2004 musical comedy Spamalot, which is adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, is returning to the big screen as a movie musical. It follows King Arthur's quest to find the Holy Grail, much like the great medieval legend it's based on—only there are annoying Frenchmen, killer rabbits, Vegas showgirls, and other funny characters popping up here and there. Casey Nicholaw, who choreographed the original production, is set to direct; while Eric Idle, who wrote the music, lyrics, and script of the live musical, returns to work on the screenplay. Filming is scheduled to start by the end of the year.

The Color Purple

Director: Blitz Bazawule
Screenplay: Marcus Gardley
Release Date: December 20, 2023

In December 2020, Warner Bros. announced that they're releasing a film adaptation of the 2005 stage musical The Color Purple, which is based on the 1982 novel of the same name by Alice Walker. Still in development, the film is set to be directed by Blitz Bazawule and produced by Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Scott Sanders, and Steven Spielberg. Casting is yet to be announced. 

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Matilda

Director: Matthew Warchus
Screenplay: Dennis Kelly
Cast: Lashana Lynch, Emma Thompson, Alisha Weir

Well-loved children's book Matilda (1988) by Roald Dahl, which was produced as a movie with Mara Wilson in 1996, is getting yet another film adaptation for the new generation. This time, it's based on the 2010 stage musical by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin. The story follows a little girl with amazing intelligence and telekinetic powers. We can't wait to see how Emma Thompson is playing the scary Miss Trunchbull. The film is set to be distributed worldwide by Netflix except in the U.K., where it will have a theatrical release.

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