Now that we’ll hopefully soon be able to stand within 6 feet of each other again without triggering worries of the Instant Death Radius, Hollywood is apparently ready to be getting to know you, getting to know all about you, once again. Which is to say, Paramount announced this week that it’s putting together a new film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 1951 musical The King And I, presumably because it would like some awards, please, and The King And I has always been a pretty good way to make the Academy cough up at least a couple of Oscars in the past.
Specifically, we’re thinking of the 1965 film version, in which Yul Brynner (who originated the part on Broadway) and Deborah Kerr played out Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fictionalized take on the relationship between King Mongkut of Siam and English governess Anna Leonowens, to the tune of an Oscar for Brynner and four more for the movie’s production. (The two versions of the story that inexplicably showed up 8 months apart in 1999—the animated The King And I and Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat’s Anna And The King—didn’t fare, uh, quite so well.)
THR reports that no writers or directors have been attached as of yet to the incredibly heavy job of parsing out all the fraught topics—colonialism, racism, misogyny, take your pick—that will have to be threaded to make this story work in a modern context, and no one’s floating any casting ideas for who might be able to step into Brynner’s haughty grandeur or distinctive sash. (Among other things, it sure would be nice to see an actor of Thai heritage perform the role, for once—even if Thailand government’s would likely still condemn and ban the film, as it has pretty much every adaptation of Margaret Landon’s historical novel Anna And The King Of Siam.) The news of Paramount’s attempts to re-mount the musical classic comes just a couple of years after Steven Spielberg announced his own revival of an Academy-and-crowd-pleaser that also dominated on Broadway; his version of West Side Story is due out in December of this year.