Boyhood and Before Midnight director Richard Linklater is going to take his sweet time making one of his upcoming films, as he has now announced that his upcoming adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along will be made over a time span of 20 years.

This may seem completely mad, but it is absolutely true that Richard Linklater plans not to finish this film until he is nearly at his 80th birthday. That's some real dedication. The time-spanning project will star an equally committed cast that includes this year's high school comedy Booksmart's Beanie Feldstein, alongside Blake Jenner and Pitch Perfect's Ben Platt. In for the long haul also will be Blumhouse on production duty, who clearly have faith in Linklater's time-consuming approach.

And so they should, as this will hardly be the first time that Linklater has filled a large part of his future calendar and used it to achieve great success. His 2014 coming-of-age drama Boyhood took him 12 years to complete, and produced a film that features on many people's 'greatest dramas of all time' lists, as well as making a healthy amount at the box office and winning multiple awards for the cast and crew, including a Best Picture Academy Award nomination and a Best Supporting Actress win for Patricia Arquette.

The unorthodox move to film Boyhood for just over a decade proved itself to be an innovative one, and resulted in the film feeling like a genuine passage of time unfolding before our eyes, witnessing our character's age in real-time whilst navigating through the relatable dramas that befell them.

For those unaware, the musical on which Merrily We Roll Along is based is itself based on the 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The musical opened on Broadway in 1981, and spans across two decades in the life of Franklin Shepard, a Hollywood producer at the height of his career, before moving backwards through time and focusing in on major moments in his past that have gotten him to where he is.

Platt will play Shepard, with Feldstein as his long-time friend, Mary Flynn, with Linklater presumably planning to film everything in reverse order to mimic having the same actors at different ages that he so well achieved with Boyhood.

Linklater seems far from intimidated by the task, as he detailed in a statement yesterday.

"I first saw and fell in love with Merrily in the '80s, and I can't think of a better place to spend the next 20 years than in the world of a Sondheim musical. I don't enter this multiyear experience lightly, but it seems the best, perhaps the only way, to do this story justice on film."

So, mark your film calendars for 2040, as we may have another Awards darling on our (by then) old and wrinkly hands. This news comes from Collider.

Jon Fuge at Movieweb
Jon Fuge