Filmmaker Brett Haley is no stranger to making musically-themed films, with his 2018’s Hearts Beat Loud comedy-drama using songwriting to tell the tale of a father-daughter duo. Haley is next gearing up to helm a prequel to the 1978 classic Grease, titled Summer Lovin’. In an interview with CinemaBlend, Haley confirmed that the prequel will also be a full-on musical:
“I can’t say much about it, but I can tell you, yeah it’s going to be a full-on Grease musical. I can tell fans of the franchise it’s going to be really true to the movie and I also tell people who maybe don’t like musicals that I think it’ll be something that will be a wonderful experience and a wonderful, surprising, fun, feel-good, fully-realized journey. So I’m really excited about what we’re cooking up, and it’s a dream project for me. I feel really honored to have gotten it.”
Grease first burst onto the scene in 1978 on an audience that was ready for something more light-hearted among the gritty, tortured landscape of 1970s cinema. The lead pairing of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John singing and dancing about their summer romance and subsequent heartbreak thanks to high-school politics became the musical anthem for an entire generation.
The movie has generated a less-well-received sequel, and countless ripoffs, parodies, and tributes in pop culture, from novels to tv to other films. Summer Lovin’ is based on the premise of the hit song Summer Nights from Grease, in which Travolta and Newton-John’s characters tell the tale of their summer romance to their suitably agog school friends. The prequel will take viewers back to that actual summer, and reveal how exactly rebellious greaser Danny Zuko, played by Travolta in the original film, and ‘good girl’ Sandy played by Newton-John, fell in love in the first place.
Leah McKendrick penned the script for Summer Lovin’ with Temple Hill and Picturestart producing. As of right now, the casting talent for the prequel has not been announced. Whoever does end up playing the lead roles will have to deal with the weight of expectations that will naturally come with stepping into the iconic shoes of Danny and Zuko.
The nature of musicals is such that audiences find it difficult to warm up to newcomers in a well-loved franchise. A similar issue was experienced by the new cast of Glee after most of the original cast members left the show during the fourth and fifth seasons, and the show’s ratings dropped as a result. In the case of Grease, the original film has been a part of the zeitgeist for more than four decades, and fans will be watching Summer lovin’ with a particularly critical and unforgiving eye if the new actors fail to live up to the standard set by the original cast.
Still, Haley seems confident he will be able to present the audience with a fun experience and inject some positivity into the world through his upcoming project. And that is something the world needs now more than ever. Check out the full interview at Cinemablend.