Hugh Jackman / Disney: According to Variety, Disney has made a nonexclusive deal to develop multiple theatrical tuners for Hugh Jackman to produce and topline.
Jackman has formed a company with new partner John Palermo, and they will be joined in the venture by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who exec produced the feature version of Chicago and are producing Hairspray. The quartet will produce each film.
The deal came after Disney toppers Dick Cook and Nina Jacobson saw Jackman in The Boy From Oz, a Tony-winning turn that made him the first male star courted for musicals since John Travolta followed up Saturday Night Fever with Grease. But the studio's aspirations for the deal hark back to the days of Jackman's idol, Gene Kelly.
Speaking from the set of the Darren Aronofsky-directed The Fountain, Jackman was cautious about creating such expectations. Musicals got a new lease on life because of the commercial and critical success of Chicago. But it remains to be seen how current release Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera and upcoming tuners Rent, Hairspray and The Producers will fare.
Jackman said he is just glad he'll be involved in crafting whatever musical he adds to that mix.
"I'm lucky that at the time my career in movies was building, the movie musicals genre that had been in the desert for 20 years started to come back," said Jackman.