LAS VEGAS – It’s been a great year so far for Hugh Jackman and 20th Century Fox. The pair have a longstanding relationship that most recently led to the box office and critical hit “Logan” last month. Next up, the studio is finally thanking Jackman for the millions he’s made for the studio playing Wolverine for almost two decades, by bringing his passion project “The Greatest Showman” to theaters. Jackman took the stage at Fox’s CinemaCon presentation on Thursday to charm the crowd, pitch the film and introduce some intriguing footage.
“Showman” tells the tale of P.T. Barnum re-imagined with original songs that have a decidedly “pop sensibility.” The project is the directorial debut of Michael Gracey, and according to Jackman has been in the works for seven years. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who won the Best Original Song Oscar for “La La Land” hit “City of Stars” alongside Justin Hurwitz earlier this year, wrote all of the film’s songs. They also are expected to take a number of Tony Awards for their new hit musical “Dear Evan Hansen” in June.
Jackman joked that he discovered Pasek and Paul before they worked on “La La Land” adding, “not that I’m competitive.” He also made a point of telling the story of relative newcomer Keala Settle, who won the role of the Bearded Lady over a number of major actresses who auditioned for the part (no, Jackman did not mention who those actresses were). The preview featured Settle singing the gorgeous track “This Is Me.” Jackman wasn’t exaggerating when he pegged her as one to watch.
The actual trailer showcased Jackman’s co-stars Michelle Williams (who plays P.T.’s wife, Charity Barnum) and Zac Efron. The songs sounded great, but the footage shown looked a bit too much like a Rob Marshall movie. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t look like Gracey has brought a unique or singular visual style to the film. At least, that’s what we took away from the footage shown today. Could that change with the finished film? Absolutely.
Fox’s entire presentation actually ended with singers coming out of the audience to sing “Come Alive,” which is from ‘Showman.’ That song in particular seems like a slam dunk as a Best Original song nomination. The movie has to be on any prospective awards season list, but will the performances and songs stand out more than the movie itself?
“The Greatest Showman” opens on Christmas Day.
Look for more coverage from CinemaCon all this week on The Playlist. For more from Hollywood’s big sneak follow me on twitter @TheGregoryE or follow my Instagram stories @Gregel17.