Will Smith, Jay-Z looking to revive musical ‘Annie’ for the big screen


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First, Will Smith put his son, Jayden, in a remake of ‘The Karate Kid.’ Now the actor-producer is looking to create a star vehicle for his daughter, Willow, in the form of a new, big-screen version of the stage musical ‘Annie.’

Rumors of Smith’s ‘Annie’ movie have been circulating for a few weeks, but on Wednesday, Sony Pictures Entertainment officially confirmed the project as well as a larger joint venture between Smith, Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter and others to develop and produce motion pictures. ‘Annie’ will be the first film project of the joint venture, and the movie will be developed by Sony and produced by Jay-Z and Overbrook Entertainment (of which Smith is a partner with his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith).


Smith and Jay-Z recently teamed up for the Broadway production of the musical ‘Fela!’ which told the life of Nigerian musician and composer Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Sony provided a statement from Columbia Pictures President Doug Belgrad, who said, ‘The time is right to bring back ‘Annie’ to the big screen. Of course, we’re true believers in Willow’s talent and believe she will be perfect in this role.’

‘Annie’ was adapted for the big screen in 1982 by director John Huston and starred Albert Finney, Ann Reinking, Carol Burnett and Aileen Quinn in the title role. A television version, directed by Rob Marshall, aired on ABC in 1999.

Jay-Z, who has signed Willow Smith to his label, sampled the memorable ‘Annie’ song ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’ in his hit single ‘Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).’ Overbrook was founded by James Lassiter and Will Smith and has produced such movies as ‘Ali,’ ‘Hancock,’ ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ and the recent ‘Karate Kid’ remake.

Speaking of screen debuts, Culture Monster would like to take this opportunity to remember Smith père’s first big movie role, which also happened to be a stage-to-screen adaptation -- ‘Six Degrees of Separation,’ the 1993 version of John Guare’s hit Broadway play.

Smith played a gay con artist who charms his way into the lives of a wealthy, white Upper East Side couple played by Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland. Perhaps it’s time to bring back ‘Six Degrees’ to the Broadway stage. Is one of the Smith kids available?



‘Fela!’ on Broadway: Moving the masses

Tony nominations: 11 nods each for ‘Fela!’ and ‘La Cage’

Theater review: ‘Annie’ at Carpenter Performing Arts Center

-- David Ng

Upper photo: Jaden Smith and Willow Smith. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Lower photo: Will Smith in ‘Six Degrees of Separation.’ Credit: Myles Aronowitz