Filming has begun in New York and San Francisco on Revolution Studios' Rent, an adaptation of the acclaimed Broadway musical of the same name, it was announced today. Directed by Chris Columbus from a screenplay by Columbus and Stephen Chbosky, the film will be released by Columbia Pictures on November 11th, 2005.
Rent is being produced for Revolution Studios by Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal and 1492 Pictures' Columbus, Mark Radcliffe and Michael Barnathan. Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, Allan S. Gordon and Lata Ryan are serving as executives producers. Julie Larson, sister of the late Jonathan Larson, serves as co-producer.
Based on Puccini's classic opera La Boheme, Jonathan Larson's revolutionary rock opera Rent tells the story of a group of bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent in the gritty background of New York's East Village. "Measuring their lives in love," these starving artists strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, illness and the AIDS epidemic.
One of the longest running shows on Broadway, Rent was the winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, four Tony Awards and three Drama Desk awards.
"'Rent' is one of the most influential musicals of this generation, and we are tremendously excited to be able to bring the film adaptation to the screen," said Revolution Studios founder Joe Roth. "Chris Columbus is the ideal filmmaker to deliver a faithful yet cutting-edge adaptation of Jonathan Larson's compelling story to existing fans of the musical and to a brand new audience."
"When we learned that Chris Columbus was going to be directing 'Rent,' we were thrilled beyond belief," said Julie Larson. "Everyone involved with the production has become part of our ever-expanding family, and we are all delighted that this movie will be the next chapter in the continuing legacy of Jonathan's vision."
The cast features many of the original Broadway performers who originated the roles in 1996, along with several other notable actors.
Taye Diggs originated the role of Benjamin "Benny" Coffin III. Diggs currently stars in and produces the television series "Kevin Hill." His film credits include Basic, Chicago, Brown Sugar and The Best Man.
Wilson Jermaine Heredia originated the role of Angel Schunard, for which he won a Tony Award. His film credits include Flawless and Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God ... Be Back by Five.
Jesse L. Martin originated the role of Thomas B. "Tom" Collins. His other credits include his portrayal of Detective Ed Green in "Law & Order" and a recurring role on "Ally McBeal."
Idina Menzel originated the role of Maureen Johnson. In 2004, Menzel won a Tony Award for her role in Wicked. Her film credits include Ask the Dusk, The Tollbooth, Just a Kiss and Kissing Jessica Stein.
Tracie Thoms will play Joanne Jefferson. Her credits include the film "Warrior Class" and the televisions series "Wonderfalls" and "As If."