I love musicals, and I love musical films. I have a real soft spot for them, where even the “not-so-good” ones will still excite me in some way. 2021 is going to be a massive year for musical fans and lovers, and so I compiled a list of all of the movie musicals coming out in 2021. I also added my top 5 most anticipated musicals for the rest of the year!
If I missed one, just let me know in the comments and I will get it added!
Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Peter Dinklage
Synopsis: Cyrano is an upcoming American-British musical drama film directed by Joe Wright and written by Erica Schmidt, based on Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical of the same name, itself based on the 1897 Edmond Rostand play Cyrano de Bergerac.
Expected Release: December 24, 2021
This film is going to be scored by “The National.” Yes… the band “The National.” Peter Dinklage is in the lead role with Joe Wright directing. This isn’t an adaptation of the 1973 Musical with Christopher Plummer, it is an adaptation of Erica Schmidt’s 2019 version, starring Dinklage, which is still based on Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. I don’t know much about this musical, but the cast and crew are definitely there to make this a good one.
Dear Evan Hansen
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Writer: Steven Levenson
Cast: Ben Platt, Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandala Stenberg
Synopsis: A high school senior suffers from social anxiety disorder which leads him to struggle at school. His journey of self-discovery and acceptance begins following the suicide of a fellow classmate.
Expected Release: September 24, 2021
Other than Hamilton, I think one could argue this is one of the biggest broadway hits of the past decade, at the least. The cast is loaded, and this could be the vehicle that shows off Platt’s acting skills to the fullest. This is a really touching story, and one that can be done wrong so many ways, but it can also be a really necessary one if done well.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Director: Jonathan Butterell
Writer: Tom MacRae
Cast: Max Harwood, Lauren Patel, Richard E. Grant
Synopsis: Jamie New is a 16-year-old who doesn’t quite fit in. Instead of pursuing a traditional career, he dreams of becoming a drag queen. Uncertain about his future, Jamie knows one thing for sure — he’s going to be a sensation. Supported by his loving mother and amazing friends, Jamie overcomes discrimination and bullying to step out of the darkness — and into the spotlight.
Expected Release: 2021
The trailer for this film seems engaging and touching enough to be a really strong musical movie.
In the Heights
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writer: Quiara Alegría Hudes
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace
Synopsis: A bodega owner has mixed feelings about closing his store and retiring to the Dominican Republic after inheriting his grandmother’s fortune.
Expected Release: June 11, 2021
This film is releasing soon, and has already garnered high praise. The musical was created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and is the first of the many musical projects Lin will be tied to this year.
tick, tick… Boom!
Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Writer: Steven Levenson
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Bradley Whitford, Vanessa Hudgens
Synopsis: Tick, Tick… Boom! is an upcoming American musical drama film directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda in his feature directorial debut, based on the semi-autobiographical musical of the same name by Jonathan Larson.
Expected Release: 2021 (Netflix)
This is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut, and the cast is… interesting to say the least. There’s enough name appeal to really get me interested in the film.
Remakes and Reboots
Director: Kay Cannon
Writer: Kay Cannon
Cast: Camilla Cabello, Idina Menzel, James Corden, John Mulaney, Pierce Brosnan
Synopsis: Cinderella is an upcoming American musical romantic comedy film written and directed by Kay Cannon, based on the fairy tale of the same name. Singer Camila Cabello will play the lead role in her acting debut.
Expected Release: 2021 (Amazon Prime)
This one is interesting because it is being pitched as a “Modern Retelling” of Cinderella’s classic story. The film is written and directed by Kay Cannon, but is based off a story coming from James Corden. The last Cinderella film with Lily James is still one of my favorite Disney live-action remakes. This one feels very sudden, but with a different twist it could perform really well.
The Little Mermaid
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer: Jane Goldman, David Magee
Cast: Halle Bailey, Daveed Diggs, Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay
Synopsis: Live-action remake of Disney’s 1989 classic.
Expected Release: 2021 but could be 2022
This is still one of my favorite Disney Animated films. Rob Marshall is a big name get for this, and the cast is picture perfect to bring this film to life.
UPDATE: I’ve heard the film is still in early stages which would make this hard to release this year. I would look for this to come out early 2022 instead.
West Side Story
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner
Cast: Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno
Synopsis: Two teenagers from different ethnic backgrounds fall in love in 1950s New York City. A remake of the 1961 Oscar-winning classic.
Expected Release: December 10, 2021
Yes, technically this is a broadway adaptation, but it is also a remake of the 1961 classic of the same name. This is the musical that intrigues me the most, because you have to wonder what more one could bring to such a beloved and well known film/musical. The cast seems really high powered, anchored by Rachel Zegler in her first film performance! If it was anyone else this film would be written off in a heartbeat, but Spielberg keeps it interesting.
Director: Leos Carax
Writer: Leos Carax, Russell Mael, Ron Mael
Cast: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard
Synopsis: Annette is an upcoming musical film directed by Leos Carax, and with a screenplay by Ron Mael and Russell Mael of Sparks and Carax, from an original story, music and songs by the band. It stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.
Expected Release: July 6, 2021
Annette has a high powered cast, and an interesting premise. I am eager to see Adam Driver in a musical role as the only singing I have seen from him was small moments in Marriage Story and Inside Llewyn Davis.
Director: Roman White
Writer: Alan Powell, Kali Bailey
Cast: Bailee Madison, Kevin Quinn
Synopsis: A troubled teenager takes a leap of faith by attending summer camp, where he finds love, friends, and a place to belong.
Expected Release: Out Now on Netflix
This is one film that has already been released and can be seen on Netflix now. Check out my review in the link above!
Director: Leisl Tommy
Writer: Tracey Scott Wilson
Cast: Jennifer Hudson, Forrest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans
Synopsis: Aretha Franklin sings in her father’s church choir as a child and grows up to become an international musical superstar and legend.
Expected Release: August 13, 2021
The biggest appeal for this film is Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin. Aside from that, it is becoming increasingly harder to break new ground in the musical biopic era. I have full faith in this film to be good, but I just am hoping it finds something new to bring to the table in terms of storytelling, that way we can get another Rocketman instead of a Bohemian Rhapsody.
Director: Byron Howard, Jared Bush
Writer: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jared Bush, Charise Castro Smith
Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, Ben Stiller (?)
Synopsis: Encanto is an upcoming American computer-animated musical fantasy comedy film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios to be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Expected Release: November 24, 2021
A Colombian magical musical with the help of… you guessed it… Lin-Manuel Miranda. Little is known about the movie as of now, but the premise seems interesting enough to get me excited.
Director: Garth Jennings
Writer: Garth Jennings
Cast: Taron Egerton, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey
Synopsis: Sequel to the 2016 Animated Musical hit Sing.
Expected Release: December 22, 2021
The first Sing film was okay. The music was good, especially finding out that Taron Egerton can really sing, but the story was really run-of-the-mill and aside from the songs there wasn’t too much to hold onto. The sequel might not be amazing, but it will have Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, Tori Kelly, Scarlett Johansson, and more singing classic songs.
Director: Kirk DeMicco, Brandon Jeffords
Writer: Kirk DeMicco
Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Zoe Saldana
This is Sony Pictures Animation’s first musical, and who better than to employ the hottest name in musicals right now in Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Director: Sian Heder
Writer: Sian Heder
Cast: Emilia Jones, Tony Kotsur, Marlee Matlin
Synopsis: CODA is a 2021 American drama film featuring a hearing teenage girl who is a child of deaf adults. Written and directed by Sian Heder, the film stars Emilia Jones as the hearing girl, with Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur as her culturally Deaf parents and Daniel Durant as her Deaf brother.
Expected Release: August 13, 2021 (Apple TV+)
I have already seen this film at Sundance (review in the link above), it isn’t necessarily a “musical”, but the film does center around music, and does include some incredible music performances from Emilia Jones. It might not be a musical, but it might hit that music itch.
My Most Anticipated
- Dear Evan Hansen
I adore the songs (I practically listen to them daily), and the cast jumps off the page at me. Amy Adams is doing another musical, Julianne Moore is DOING a musical, Kaitlyn Dever is one of my favorite young actresses, and Ben Platt is a perfect Evan Hansen. It is wonderful to see him cast in this role, even if he might be 27.
- West Side Story
As I said, Spielberg keeps this interesting. The original is one of the best representations of a play to screen musical adaptation I have seen, and so I am highly interested to see what Spielberg, arguably the greatest director to ever live, can bring to this.
- In the Heights
This movie has the look and feel of a large scale and exciting musical. The music itself is a blast to listen to, and Anthony Ramos finally getting his time in the spotlight is incredible to see. This one has the benefit of having a trailer already, since it is scheduled to release soon, and the trailer looks like it could be one of 2021’s best.
- The Little Mermaid
As I said earlier, the animated version of this movie is still one of my favorite Disney Animated film. This is also one of my favorite casted films of the year, which would have been perfect if Harry Styles was Prince Eric. I am really looking forward to seeing which “Disney live-action” remake we end up with.
I mean come on… it’s being scored by THE NATIONAL, who also worked on all the music for the musical as well. That alone helps it make the list. But Peter Dinklage in the lead role is really intriguing. He has shown off his talent in Game of Thrones, but hasn’t had the opportunity to really translate to the big screen. This could be a movie star making vehicle for one of Game of Thrones‘ favorites.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.