On February 3, the musical's creator Lin-Manuel Miranda announced on Twitter that a film version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning show was on its way. However, rather than it being an adaptation (like Miranda's In The Heights coming in 2020), it will be a filmed performance of one of the first stage performances at The Rogers Theatre, New York.
With Hamilton theatre tickets still consistently sold out and, let's face it, incredibly pricey, the film version is finally making the historically exclusive world of theatre accessible to the masses. (For Miranda's last performance in the show in July 2016, tickets were reportedly going for close to £10,000 in the second hand market.)
According to Deadline, Disney beat out competitors by paying $75 million for worldwide rights to have the groundbreaking musical in its vast film catalogue, potentially making the project the biggest film acquisition deal ever recorded.
Here’s everything you need to know about the film version of Hamilton:
Who is starring in the Hamilton movie?
The original cast returns, with Miranda himself playing lead character Alexander Hamilton. The actor will be joined by Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, Leslie Odom Jr. (Harriet, Murder on the Orient Express) as Aaron Burr, Christopher Jackson (Netflix's When They See Us) as George Washington, Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter, Glee) as King George, Renee Elise Goldsberry (Waves, The Good Wife) as Angelica Schuyler, and Phillipa Soo (Moana) as Eliza Hamilton.
Play director Tommy Kail also directs the film, which consisted of shooting three live performances (two weeks before the original cast left) along with set up shots without the audience. It is believed that the footage involves multiple angles and delivers a cinematic feel for the audience, offering everyone the best seat in the house for 2 hours and 40 minutes.
'Lin-Manuel Miranda created an unforgettable theatre experience and a true cultural phenomenon, and it was for good reason that Hamilton was hailed as an astonishing work of art,' said Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger to Variety.
'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.'
Kail added: 'We are thrilled for fans of the show, and new audiences across the world, to experience what it was like on stage — and in the audience — when we shot this at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016. We wanted to give everyone the same seat, which is what this film can provide.'
Has there been controversy over the play and film?
After Hamilton aired on Disney+ on July 3, several Twitter users have expressed their thoughts over the show.
While the majority of viewers have praised Miranda for his writing, some have taken issue with the portrayal of the Founding Fathers and of slavery.
Scholar Roxane Gay wrote on Twitter: ‘I have a lot of thoughts about Hamilton and the way it idealises the founders, and how such a brilliant musical dangerously elides they realities of slavery but Leslie Odom Jr. put his FOOT in that performance. So talented [sic].’
I have a lot of thoughts about Hamilton and the way it idealizes the founders, and how such a brilliant musical dangerously elides they realities of slavery but Leslie Odom Jr. put his FOOT in that performance. So talented.— roxane gay (@rgay) July 4, 2020
Podcast host Tracy Clayton added: ‘Hamilton is a flawed play about flawed people written by an imperfect person that gave my flawed and imperfect little life a big boost when i needed it most, so again i know im biased... but i do appreciate the change this illustrates & will be following the convo's evolution [sic].’
hamilton is a flawed play about flawed people written by an imperfect person that gave my flawed and imperfect little life a big boost when i needed it most, so again i know im biased— tracy clayton aka CHUBBA BEEF (@brokeymcpoverty) July 5, 2020
but i do appreciate the change this illustrates & will be following the convo’s evolution
and maybe thats step 2 of this very necessary conversation! navigating history and historical figures is hard and messy. humans are flawed and messy, both the ones who lived then & the ones reading and writing about them now— tracy clayton aka CHUBBA BEEF (@brokeymcpoverty) July 5, 2020
In response, Miranda – who has previously discussed the contentious issues of the play – thanked the critics for expressing their opinions.
‘Appreciate you so much, @brokeymcpoverty,’ he responded to Clayton on Twitter. ‘All the criticisms are valid. The sheer tonnage of complexities & failings of these people I couldn't get. Or wrestled with but cut. I took 6 years and fit as much as I could in a 2.5 hour musical. Did my best. It's all fair game [sic].’
Appreciate you so much, @brokeymcpoverty. All the criticisms are valid. The sheer tonnage of complexities & failings of these people I couldn’t get. Or wrestled with but cut. I took 6 years and fit as much as I could in a 2.5 hour musical. Did my best. It’s all fair game. https://t.co/mjhU8sXS1U— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) July 6, 2020
In the play, lead character Alexander Hamilton’s view of slavery isn’t overtly stated, with the Washington Post noting that although he 'despised' slavery, he didn’t confront George Washington or other slaveholders about it.
Last month, Miranda discussed the exploration of slavery in an interview with NPR.
He noted: ‘Slavery] is the third line of our show. It's a system in which every character in our show is complicit in some way or another... Hamilton – although he voiced anti-slavery beliefs – remained complicit in the system.
'And other than calling out Jefferson on his hypocrisy with regards to slavery in Act 2, doesn't really say much else over the course of Act 2. And I think that's actually pretty honest.'
What is the plot of the Hamilton film?
Based on the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by historian Ron Chernow, hip-hop musical Hamilton tells the story of the forgotten American Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton.
Against the backdrop of the American War of Independence, hip-hop and RnB songs (by Lin-Manuel Miranda) document Hamilton’s ascent out of immigrant poverty to power as George Washington's right-hand man.
There’s themes of betrayal, death and blackmail interjected by rap battles and battle scenes. It's portrayal of immigrant inclusiveness could not be more timely.
Hamilton's legacy is gargantuan. As well it's 66 awards (not including nominations), Obama invited the Hamilton cast to perform at the White House, James Corden Carpool Karaoke'd with them on The Late Late Show and now one of the most successful shows in history is coming to big screens across the globe.
When is the Hamilton film out?
Lin-Manuel's initial Tweet stated that the film would be out in theatres on October 15 2021.
However, on May 12, Miranda surprised fans by tweeting that the film will be released on Disney+, rather than in cinemas, a whole year early.
‘It's only a matter of time… Our Hamilton film. THIS July 3rd. On Disney+,’ he tweeted.
In a statement released via Deadline, the show's creator explained: 'I’m so proud of how beautifully Tommy Kail has brought Hamilton to the screen. He’s given everyone who watches this film the best seat in the house.
'I’m so grateful to Disney and Disney+ for reimagining and moving up our release to July 4th weekend of this year, in light of the world turning upside down. I’m so grateful to all the fans who asked for this, and I’m so glad that we’re able to make it happen. I’m so proud of this show. I can’t wait for you to see it.'
Is there a Hamilton film trailer?
On June 21, Disney Plus released the first official trailer for ‘Hamilton’ days before its release on July 3.
In the clip, viewers see the original cast dance, sing amid raptures of applause from the audience.
You can also watch the Hamilton cast performing at the White House in in 2016 below:
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