First images of Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron in original musical The Greatest Showman

·UK Movies Writer
Hugh Jackman is PT Barnum in 'The Greatest Showman' (credit: 20th Century Fox/EW)
Hugh Jackman is PT Barnum in ‘The Greatest Showman’ (credit: 20th Century Fox/EW)

While cinemagoers worldwide know and love him as Wolverine, Hugh Jackman has always at heart been a great song-and-dance man. He was able to exercise those muscles in 2012’s ‘Les Miserables,’ and soon he will do so again in ‘The Greatest Showman.’

Entertainment Weekly just shared the first photos from the 20th Century Fox production, based on the life of the famed circus ringmaster PT Barnum, and unsurprisingly it looks a lavish, colourful affair.

As well as being the first feature from visual FX artist and commercial director Michael Gracey, ‘The Greatest Showman’ is that rarest of things: an entirely new musical created specifically for the big screen.

Founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, Barnum was notorious for his promotion of freakshows, spectacle and grandoise hoaxes, and is often incorrectly credited for coining the phrase “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

‘The Greatest Showman’ had initially been planned as a standard biopic, but director Gracey had bigger ideas: “I said, ‘If you’re going to call it ‘The Greatest Showman,’ you should play to your strengths and we should make it a musical.’ That ridiculous remark cost me seven years of my life.”

Here's to a hit musical: Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman in 'The Greatest Showman' (credit: 20th Century Fox/EW)
Here’s to a hit musical: Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman in ‘The Greatest Showman’ (credit: 20th Century Fox/EW)

As for why it took so long to reach screens, Jackman explains, “Up until ‘La La Land,’ everyone was saying there hasn’t been an original musical in 23 years. So the prevailing thought in Hollywood was, unless you have a brand people know, it’s not a done thing. So it just took a long time.”

The ‘La La Land’ connection is key, as the songwriters from that awards-laden hit, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, have also written the book for ‘The Greatest Showman,’ which co-stars Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife Charity, Zac Efron as Barnum’s business partner Philip, and Zendaya as a trapeze artist who Philip falls in love with.

Zendaya in 'The Greatest Showman' (credit: 20th Century Fox/EW)
Zendaya in ‘The Greatest Showman’ (credit: 20th Century Fox/EW)

We might anticipate a bit of a ‘Moulin Rogue’ vibe too, as Jackman stresses, “We were clear from the beginning that this wouldn’t feel like a period movie or a historical piece. What would Barnum do now? I have an almost-12-year-old daughter. I wanted [the movie] to be as exciting for her as listening to Katy Perry’s new song.”

Rebecca Ferguson will also appear as opera singer Jenny Lind.

‘The Greatest Showman’ will open in UK cinemas January 2018.

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