Oliver! remake

Remember that previously-announced Disney Oliver! remake? The one starring Ice Cube, with Hamilton director Thomas Kail at the helm? It’s still happening! And the film now has a writer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer alumnus Danny Strong will pen the script. The original Oliver! was a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Ice Cube will play Fagin, the leader of a band of young pickpockets.

Disney is in the process of remaking Oliver!, a new big screen remake of the 1968 Carol Reed-directed musical that added songs to Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. The remake has already attracted a surprising roster of talent: Thomas Kail, the Tony-award winning director of the blockbuster Broadway musical Hamilton, will helm the film, and Ice Cube will play Fagin, the somewhat villainous leader of a gang of young pickpockets. Now, the film officially has a writer: Danny Strong, a former Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor who has also written screenplays for Game Change and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, will pen the script, according to Deadline.

Some of Danny Strong’s other writing credits include Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the HBO movie Game Change, and Rebel in the Rye, which he also directed. But to me, he’ll always be Jonathan, one-third of the villainous Trio on Buffy the Vampire Slayer – a character who was actually able to create an alternate reality where he was the star of the show and all the other Buffy players were supporting characters. What does this have to do with Oliver!? Nothing. I just really love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and felt like talking about it for a moment.

There’s still no official word on who might be handling the songs, which might indicate the film is sticking with some of the original Oliver!‘s music and lyrics written by Lionel Bart. That said, the Deadline piece also mentions that “the re-imagined Oliver! features a cross-genre soundtrack that will include hip-hop,” so perhaps they just haven’t gotten around to hiring a songwriter yet (Is Lin-Manuel Miranda busy? I feel like that guy has a lot of time on his hands; they should ask him).

The original Oliver! was adapted from the stage play of the same name, and both were adapted from Charles Dickens’ classic novel Oliver Twist. In the story, young orphan Oliver Twist gets kicked out of the orphanage when he dares ask for more food. His banishment leads him on a wild journey, where he soon finds himself entrenched in a gang of young pickpockets, all of whom take orders from Fagin. Along the way, Oliver falls afoul of the murderous Bill Sikes while also befriending fellow pick-pocket the Artful Dodger.

There have been numerous film adaptations of Oliver Twist. In fact, Disney even gave the story an animated twist with the 1988 film Oliver & Company (co-starring Billy Joel). There have also been some recently-announced adaptations, including a steampunk take on the material called Dodge and Twist written by Edgar Wright, and, even stranger, a “sexy, contemporary” female-led TV adaptation called Twist. Neither of those things have happened yet, and perhaps that’s for the best.

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