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Last year, Mama Mia! did well for Universal, so according to the RiskyBiz Blog the studio is looking to find musical harmony again with a revamp of Jesus Christ Superstar. They’re talking to the director who has recently made a splash with (500) Days of Summer, Marc Webb. The blog speculates on “a modern, hipstery take,” which makes me shudder. (Let me guess: it’ll shoot at McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn.) But I have relatively little familiarity with either the original Broadway show or the film (Andrew Lloyd Webber and I don’t really suit one another) so I can’t speculate as to whether that’s a good idea or a terrible one.

In 1972 the Tim Rice / Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway show generated a smash soundtrack album, and Norman Jewison’s film followed the year after. Both versions are products of the ’70s, with hippie influences and, more important, an open-minded look at the role played by Judas in the betrayal and execution of Jesus Christ. Arguably the story treats Jesus as just a man (Tim Rice said “It happens that we don’t see Christ as God but simply the right man at the right time at the right place”) and also has sympathy for Judas and his motivations for ‘betraying’ Jesus.

The show has been revived multiple times as a touring production (once with Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach playing Jesus!) so it’s not difficult to see why Universal would see dollar signs behind a new film take. And if the story seems like one that doesn’t need to be told again, check out the impassioned take on the film recently penned by Devin at CHUD.

Where does this leave other announced Webb projects Age of Rage and The Spectacular Now? Since nothing is signed with Universal at this point, those films aren’t necessarily off the books just yet. Finally, thanks to the magic of Hulu, you can watch the entire original version of Jesus Christ Superstar, at least if you live in the US.

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