Richard Linklater certainly has patience.
The Before Sunrise and School of Rock director filmed the Oscar-nominated Boyhood over 12 years, resulting in a successful, acclaimed film that was nominated for six Oscars and earned Patricia Arquette a Best Supporting Actress win. Well, 12 years ain’t nothing; let’s go for 20.
Linklater is directing an adaptation of the stage musical Merrily We Roll Along from Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, who adapted a 1934 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The plot follows Franklin, a Broadway composer who makes it in Hollywood, but loses his friends, marriage and principles in the process.
Set to play Franklin is Blake Jenner, who starred in Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!. The cast also includes Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart) as Franklin’s writer Mary Flynn and Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect) as his writing partner and lyricist Charley Kringas.
Production has already started on the 20-year project, which will tell its story in reverse chronological order, showing the progression of Franklin’s career climb and selling out. The final scene has already been filmed.
“I first saw, and fell in love with Merrily in the ‘80s and I can’t think of a better place to spend the next 20 years than in the world of a Sondheim musical,” Linklater said in a statement. “I don’t enter this multi-year experience lightly, but it seems the best, perhaps the only way, to do this story justice on film.”
The film being produced through Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions umbrella. Linklater is also producing, alongside Ginger Sledge and Marc Sherman.