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A movie version of Steven Sondheim's legendary musical Into the Woods has been in development at Disney for a year or so. The award-winning Broadway musical epitomized the phrase "fractured fairy tale," as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack (of the Beanstalk fame), Rapunzel and a childless baker and his wife venture into the woods to have their wishes granted... and discover that real life seldom works like a fairy tale.
- James Corden as the Baker
- Meryl Streep as the Witch
- Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife
- Johnny Depp as the Wolf
- Anna Kendrick as Cinderella
- Chris Pine as Cinderella's Prince
- Daniel Huttlestone as Jack
- Tracey Ullman as Jack's Mother
- Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel
- Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel's Prince
- Christine Baranski as Wicked Stepmother
- Tammy Blanchard as Florinda
- Lucy Punch as Lucinda
- Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood
- Richard Glover as the Steward
- Frances de la Tour as the Giant
- Simon Russell Beale as The Baker's Father
- Joanna Riding as Cinderella's Mother
- Annette Crosbie as Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother
From the official press-release:
- Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) - all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family, and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.
The first attempts of adapting Into the Woods to film occurred in the early 1990s, with a script written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel and a cast that included Robin Williams as The Baker, Goldie Hawn as The Baker's Wife, Cher as The Witch, Danny DeVito as The Giant, Steve Martin as The Wolf, and Roseanne Barr as Jack's Mother. By 1991, Columbia Pictures and Jim Henson Productions were also developing a film adaptation with Craig Zadan as producer and Rob Minkoff as director. In 1997, Columbia put the film into turnaround, with Minkoff still attached as director, and Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan and Susan Sarandon reportedly in talks to star. After the report by Variety, a film adaptation of Into the Woods remained inactive for 15 years.
In January 2012, Rob Marshall was hired to direct a new adaptation of the musical for Walt Disney Pictures, with James Lapine writing the script and Stephen Sondheim "expected" to write new songs. Academy Award-winner Dion Beebe, who previously collaborated with Marshall in Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Nine will serve as cinematographer. Sondheim confirmed that a new song is being written for the film. The Walt Disney Studios confirmed in June 2013, that the film had been commissioned, and scheduled a release date for Christmas Day 2014.
With Disney's backing, an updated reading of the screenplay directed by Marshall, took place in October 2012, with Nina Arianda as the Baker's Wife, Victoria Clark as Cinderella's Mother/Granny/Giant, James Corden as the Baker, Donna Murphy as the Witch, Christine Baranski as Cinderella's Stepmother, Tammy Blanchard as Florinda, Ivan Hernandez as the Wolf, Megan Hilty as Lucinda, Cheyenne Jackson as Rapunzel's Prince, Allison Janney as Jack's Mother, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Michael McGrath as Steward/Mysterious Man, Laura Osnes as Rapunzel, Taylor Trensch as Jack, Casey Whyland as Little Red Riding Hood, and Patrick Wilson as Cinderella's Prince. Reports subsequently surfaced in January 2013 that Meryl Streep had been cast to play the Witch. During that month, it was reported that Janney had been confirmed to join the film as well. Five months later, however, Tracey Ullman was cast as Jack's Mother instead.
In April 2013, Johnny Depp was in final negotiations, along with Streep, to join the film. In May, James Corden, who took part in the reading of the screenplay, was in talks to play the role of the Baker. On May 10, Disney confirmed the casting of Streep, Depp, and Corden as the Witch, the Big Bad Wolf, and the Baker, respectively. That same month, Emily Blunt and Christine Baranski were cast as The Baker's wife and Cinderella's Stepmother, respectively, whereas Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Pine entered negotiations to play the Princes. However, Gyllenhaal dropped out of the film due to scheduling conflicts with another film, Nightcrawler and was subsequently replaced by Billy Magnussen. One moth later, Anna Kendrick began talks to play Cinderella in the film. In July, Mackenzie Mauzy, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch and Daniel Huttlestone joined the cast. Sophia Grace Brownlee was originally cast as Little Red Riding Hood. Brownlee's casting attracted controversy due to her age and the sexual undertones present between Little Red and the Wolf. The film's official cast and plot synopsis were revealed at the D23 Expo on August 10, 2013.
On September 16, 2013, Lilla Crawford was confirmed as playing the character of Little Red Riding Hood, despite previous reports suggesting Brownlee. Later on, Dominic Brownlee spoke about his daughter, Sophia Grace's withdrawal from the movie saying, "After careful consideration, we the parents of Sophia Grace, felt that as rehearsals progressed that she was too young for this part. It was a joint decision between us and the director and producer of Into the Woods to withdraw Sophia Grace from the film." Other castings of Richard Glover, Frances de la Tour, Simon Russell Beale, Joanna Riding and Annette Crosbie were later announced the same day.
The film began principal photography at London's Shepperton Studios in September 2013, with additional filming taking place at Dover Castle, Waverley Abbey and Richmond Park. Filming concluded on November 27, 2013. Additional filming took place during July 2014.
Into the Woods was released on Blu-Ray Combo Pack, Digital HD, and Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) on March 24, 2015. The digital release includes an exclusive, never-before-seen original song “She’ll Be Back” performance by Meryl Streep, film commentary, and a behind the scenes look at the film with interviews with the cast.
Trailers and Clips
- Sophia Grace Brownlee was originally cast as Little Red Riding Hood, but her parents withdrew from the film after deciding she was too young for the role.
- Jake Gyllenhaal was originally cast as Rapunzel's Prince but departed the film to star in another movie called Nightcrawler.
- In early 2013, the press reported that Allison Janney had been cast as Jack's Mother before Tracey Ullman got the part.
- Into the Woods is the first Broadway play or musical film adaptation produced and distributed by The Walt Disney Company since 2005's Once Upon A Mattress, but the first to be released in theaters, although Miramax Films (which was under the Disney banner in 2002) did release Chicago, which Rob Marshall also directed.
- It is also the sixth film to be adapted from a Broadway source following Once Upon A Mattress, 2003's The Music Man, 2002's Miramax released Chicago ,1999's Annie, also directed by Marshall; and 1997's Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. It is also their first Broadway play or musical theatrical film adaptation in the history of Disney itself.
- It's the fourth Disney film to have a Disney logo in the beginning, a movie title and end credits in the end of the film.
- Frances De La Tour and Johnny Depp previously appeared in 2010's Alice in Wonderland (Frances portrayed Alice Kingsleigh's dellusional Aunt Imogene, while Johnny portrayed Tarrant Hightopp, the Mad Hatter).
- Christine Baranski and Meryl Streep previously worked together on the film version of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! (Meryl Streep portrayed Donna while Christine Baranski portrayed Tanya, one of Donna's "Dynamos").