Richard Linklater famously shot his 2014 film Boyhood, which was nominated for six Oscars, over the course of 12 years. The director’s latest film, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, is now playing in theaters but he’s already working on his next project. Taking a page from his Boyhood playbook, Richard Linklater has another highly ambitious, years-spanning movie on the way.
Collider has learned that Richard Linklater is directing a new multi-year movie that will be an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Merrily We Roll Along. As if Boyhood wasn’t ambitious enough, this film will be shot over a whopping 20 years. The film will star Pitch Perfect’s Ben Platt, Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein, and American Animals’ Blake Jenner. Richard Linklater will produce the film alongside his longtime producer Ginger Sledge, as well as Jonathan Marc Sherman and Blumhouse’s Jason Blum.
Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, which ran on Broadway for 44 previews and 16 performances in 1981, is itself based on a 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The play and musical both take place over the course of 20 years and chronicle the lives of three best friends in showbusiness.
At the center of the story is a Broadway composer named Franklin Shepard, who abandons his career in New York, as well as all of his friends, in order to go produce movies in Hollywood. The musical begins with Frank having achieved Hollywood success and fame and the story then moves backwards in time, highlighting important moments in his life that led him to that point.
Richard Linklater felt that the only way to do the story of Merrily We Roll Along justice was to shoot it over a time period that is true to the story itself. So Merrily We Roll Along will shoot periodically over 20 years to allow the cast to age. The film is being shot in reverse, as the end of the story, at least in the musical, finds the characters in their mid-20s. The first segment of the film has already been shot. So if the movie maintains the musical’s structure, the end of the film is already in the can.
This is an incredibly ambitious project for Richard Linklater and it dwarfs the 12-year Boyhood in terms of pure duration, eclipsing it by eight years. It’s pretty cool that there are filmmakers like Linklater trying stuff like this, especially in an time when technology would theoretically allow for him to just hire older actors and de-age them.
I would tell you the release date for Merrily We Roll Along, but there obviously isn’t one and well, we’ve got a ways to go before you have to worry about it. Merrily We Roll Along should hit theaters sometime in the 2040s I figure, planet pending of course.
If you don’t want to wait two decades to see your next movie, check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of what’s headed to theaters this year.