Hamilton on the Big Screen

Hamilton_ Musical turned movie - Somya Duggal

Writer: Sarah P.

Visual: Somya D.

Editor: Norbu D.

On October 15, 2021, the Walt Disney Company will release ‘Hamilton’ in theaters – a little more than six years after the show’s 2015 Broadway premiere. It centers on the forgotten Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton who rose out of poverty during the American War of Independence. After its Broadway debut, the musical went on to win numerous accolades, including 11 Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. In addition to its critical success, the musical won the hearts of theatergoers worldwide with its refreshing take on American history.

The on-screen version will feature the original Broadway cast and is expected to be about two and a half hours long, consisting of two one hour and fourteen minute acts. The filming was directed and produced by Thomas Kail, who also directed the stage production. Other producers included Lin-Manuel Miranda, the original lead actor of Hamilton, Jeffrey Seller, the musical’s lead producer, and Disney. Both Kail and Miranda have previously worked with Disney, Miranda working as a writer on ‘Moana’ and a performer in ‘Mary Poppins Returns’.

With the idea of a musical-turned-movie, another recent film may come to mind: ‘Cats’. The disaster that was ‘Cats’, directed by Tom Hooper, may have caused doubt in the success of a transition from the stage to theaters. Although the beloved Broadway musical was renowned for its score and storyline, the outlook for the film was bleak from the moment trailers were released on the internet. The actual film did no better, garnering terrible reviews from critics and an equally– if not more– terrible reaction from the general audience.

However, there are two key differences between 2019’s ‘Cats’ and the upcoming ‘Hamilton’. Firstly, ‘Hamilton’ is not a feature film. Although the idea has not been confirmedly ruled out, the footage that will be in theaters is an version of two performances captured live and edited by Kail himself. Secondly, the director and original playwright of the musical ‘Hamilton’ were a part of the movie version’s production. While the ‘Cats’ adaptation featured the original score from the original musical, director Hooper had no involvement in the musical’s production.

To this day, ‘Hamilton’ remains the most popular show on Broadway, earning the spot of the top-grossing show each week. Since its early performances in 2015, the musical has been seen by 2.6 million people from all around the world, and has grossed a massive total of $636 million. “Lin-Manuel Miranda created an unforgettable theater experience and a true cultural phenomenon, and it was for good reason that ‘Hamilton’ was hailed as an astonishing work of art,” Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger said in a statement. “All who saw it with the original cast will never forget that singular experience. And we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to share this same Broadway experience with millions of people around the world.”

Works Cited

Paulson, Michael. “’Hamilton’ Movie, With Original Broadway Cast, to Hit Theaters Next Year.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 Feb. 2020, http://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/03/theater/hamilton-film-release-date.html.

Rubin, Rebecca. “’Hamilton’ Movie With Original Broadway Cast Coming to Theaters.” Variety, 3 Feb. 2020, variety.com/2020/film/news/hamilton-movie-lin-manuel-miranda-2-1203490645/.