Lin-Manuel Miranda on struggle to bring In the Heights to the big screen

·2-min read

Lin-Manuel Miranda has opened up about the decades-long struggle he faced bringing In the Heights to the big screen.

The stage musical was written and composed by Miranda, and made its debut on Broadway back in 2008, before going on to win four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, that same year.

In the Heights focuses on Usnavi, a bodega owner in Washington Heights in New York who’s working to save enough money to move to the Dominican Republic, and it was optioned by Universal Pictures in 2008, with Kenny Ortega attached to direct.

However, the project sat untouched for years, until it was dropped by the studio in 2011, leaving Miranda devastated.

“I was so naive. I thought once a studio buys the rights to the movie, the movie’s getting made. I didn’t know the sheer tonnage of miles between acquiring the rights and a green light. You can find interviews of me being like, the In the Heights movie is happening any minute now!” he told Variety.

The Hamilton creator and star revealed it was conversations with studio bosses about who would be cast in the leading roles that led to the demise of the project.

“It very quickly became if you don’t have, bleep, you’re not getting the money to make the movie. The sentence that rings in my ears from that era is ‘There’s not a lot of Latino stars who test international.’ ‘Test international’ means ‘We’re not taking a chance on an expensive movie with Latino stars,’” Miranda explained.

After more than a decade of fighting to bring In the Heights to the big screen, Miranda has finally succeeded, with Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu at the helm, and he's overjoyed with the filmmaker's passion for bringing Latino stars into the limelight.

“What Jon did so brilliantly with Crazy Rich Asians was he said, ‘These people are stars; you just don’t know who they are yet.’ I think he’s done a similar thing with In the Heights," Miranda stated.

In the Heights will be released on HBO Max and cinemas in June.