'Annie' Remake Loses Willow Smith, Gains 'Easy A' Director Will Gluck
by Ben Pearson
January 30, 2013
Just over two years ago, word came out that Will Smith and his Overbrook Entertainment were teaming with Sony/Columbia Pictures to produce a remake of the classic musical Annie, with Jay-Z working on the soundtrack and Will's daughter Willow Smith whipping her hair back and forth in the lead role. "Glee" and "American Horror Story" creator Ryan Murphy was pegged as the director, and Emma Thompson was said to be writing the screenplay. Then things got quiet. But now Deadline is reporting that Easy A director Will Gluck has officially signed on to direct, but Willow Smith is no longer taking the lead. More below!
Gluck is revising the screenplay, which was originally written by Emma Thompson and then handed off to Aline Brosh McKenna (Morning Glory, We Bought A Zoo) for a rewrite. Will Smith, James Lassiter, and Jada Pinkett Smith are producing for Overbrook, while Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Jay Brown, and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith are producing through a relatively new enterprise called Marcy Media. Willow has outgrown the lead role of the wily young orphan, so it will have to be recast moving forward because filming is set to start this fall for a 2014 release.
Look, I'm a big Will Smith fan, but this whole thing he's doing where he shoehorns his kids into movies is starting to get annoying, so I'm glad Willow won't be appearing here. Jayden is bad enough - he was the worst part of The Day The Earth Stood Still remake - and After Earth is a big question mark at this point, so it's probably best that the Smith family takes a little break from complete Hollywood domination. Gluck's comedic background also seems like a good fit for this story, and I'm glad Sony ultimately ended up going with him instead of Ryan Murphy. Things are slowly coming together for Annie, and hopefully they'll cast an up-and-comer in the lead based on pure talent.