Back in 1956, the big screen adaptation of The King and I landed nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Now Paramount Pictures is looking to whistle a happy tune all over again with a new version of the classic musical in development at the studio.
The Hollywood Reporter has news on The King and I musical remake in the works at Paramount Pictures. The film will be a new take on the musical adaptation of Anna and the King of Siam, the 1944 novel by Margaret Landon. Coming from renowned musical duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, the original musical was a huge hit on stage in 1951 and launched actor Yul Brynner into Hollywood, where he would reprise his role in the film, earning him the Oscar for Best Actor.
If you’ve never encountered the story of The King and I before, here’s the official synopsis for Margaret Landon’s novel:
Anna Leonowens, a proper Englishwoman, was an unlikely candidate to change the course of Siamese (Thai) history. A young widow and mother, her services were engaged in the 1860’s by King Mongkut of Siam to help him communicate with foreign governments and be the tutor to his children and favored concubines. Stepping off the steamer from London, Anna found herself in an exotic land she could have only dreamed of: lush landscapes of mystic faiths and curious people, and king’s palace bustling with royal pageantry, ancient custom, and harems. One of her pupils, the young prince Chulalongkorn, was particularly influenced by Leonowens and her Western ideals. He learned about Abraham Lincoln and the tenets of democracy from her, and years later he would become Siam’s most progressive king. He guided the country’s transformation from a feudal state to a modern society, abolishing slavery and making many other radical reforms.
The last time the story of Anna and the King of Siam went to the big screen was in 1999 with Anna and the King, starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat, but that wasn’t an adaptation of the musical. Producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey at Temple Hill are hoping to “bring a contemporary perspective to the project and incorporate diversity and contrasting worldviews” in their take on the musical, which could be enough to make it refreshing for audiences who have zero experience with the story.
As of now, there is no director or writer attached, so it might be awhile before we hear any updates about the project, but we’ll keep our ears to the ground for more information.
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