Why Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' Will Work as an Animated Film

By Christian Rockafeller on Feb 12, 2014 03:16 PM EST

Classicalite reported last week that the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is to be turned into an (Osmond-less) animated film. This won't be the first before-the-cameras version of the popular show. In 1999 Donny Osmond, Joan Collins, Richard Attenborough and Maria Freidman starred in a small-screen treatment.

It is perhaps a surprise that Joseph will be the first of Lloyd Webber's musicals to be animated. He has spoken at various times of a desire to have an animated Starlight Express. But both are children's shows, so animation would seem to be a natural. And animation would, of course, allow for the epic scope of Joseph's Egypt.

The musical started in a school--Lloyd Webber and his lyricist Rice had just abruptly left university themselves to produce the show. But it was the only kids' show the pair wrote together. Evita followed it, very much an adults-only musical, and child-friendly Cats came about post-Rice (indeed, in many ways it solved the composer's lyricist problem at the time as its real lyricist, T.S. Elliot, was long dead).

Joseph lead production company Rocket Pictures (co-producing with Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group) will be hoping that their hit show on screen will emulate the success of the Dreamworks re-tread on the Moses story, Prince of Egypt. On paper, it doesn't look like a bad bet. Joseph has been seen by more than two dozen million people, grossing in excess of $600 million. It's an established brand, as it were, and as we all know, children's films which work really work.

Other hit musicals that have been turned into films, mostly non-animated, have had mixed fortunes in recent years. Chicago was the big breakthrough, and others such as Les Misérables, Sweeney Todd, Hairspray and to some extent Phantom of the Opera have done well at the box office and on DVD. Others, like Rent, have fared less well. But these guys should know what they're doing. After all, Rocket Pictures is owned by Elton John. He knows a thing or two about having a hit.

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TagsElton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Tim Rice, film, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Hairspray, Rent

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