"I pitched my heart out."
How Bob Iger secured 'Hamilton' for Disney, and other details
|M.G. Siegler||Jul 13, 2020||1|
Broadway shows are often recorded for archival purposes, but rarely for commercial runs. The “Hamilton” film was shot over just three days in June 2016, shortly after the Tonys and shortly before Miranda and several other performers departed from the cast.
I had no idea this wasn’t one continuous showing, but a combination of a few of them. I suppose the only way you could tell is if their mics were placed differently at times, but even then, that could have just been done backstage.
Kail had strong ideas about the “Hamilton” capture. “I didn’t want to pretend we weren’t in the theater,” he said. “That’s why you hear the audience and see the audience a little bit. I wanted to create a document that could feel like what it was to be in the theater at that time.”
I think they succeeded in this. It felt more like watching a play than a movie. I have to imagine that watching a play without cuts could be fairly boring on television because you can’t change your perspective with your head in the same way that you can in person — the camera has to do that for you. And the camera can do more than your head can in this case, of course, which is good because it helps to replace the live energy you would get in the theater. They did a good job, in this regard.
Other great details: it costs them less than $10 million to produce, and Disney bought it for $75 million — a great return. And that’s in part because they shopped it around prior to selling and opted to take none of the bids.
Then Kail unexpectedly joined the Disney family. He was directing the mini-series “Fosse/Verdon” for FX when Disney acquired 20th Century Fox. And last year, Kail reached out to Robert A. Iger, then Disney’s chief executive, to inform him that the film was still available.
Iger really wanted it. He had seen the musical on Broadway (but not the original cast) and in Los Angeles; he said his children were “big fans,” and that he had “a few grandchildren who know every word.”
The deal also notably keeps the rights with Miranda for any future actual film adaptation — he says he “doesn’t know” if that will happen, which reads as if he doesn’t know when that will happen. Also, the original Public Theater home of the production and the original cast shared in the bounty here, which is very cool.
There were no rehearsals — that seemed unnecessary, given that most of the cast had already done the show several hundred times. “These are the most well-rehearsed actors in the history of movies,” Miranda said.