Image Credit: James Coldrey/WireImage.com; Astrid Stawiarz/GettyLast week, we reported that Will Smith was in talks with Sony Pictures to produce a movie adaptation of the beloved musical Annie that would star Smith’s 10-year-old daughter Willow and feature music by Jay-Z. Now it’s official. But not only are the A-list movie star and the multi-platinum rapper collaborating on the saga of the Broadway-belting little orphan, they’ve also formed a new joint venture to produce and develop more feature films and no doubt take over the world shortly thereafter.
In a statement from Smith’s publicist, the deal between Jay-Z and Smith’s production shingle Overbrook Entertainment (which includes wife Jada Pinkett Smith, James Lassiter, and Ken Stovitz) went down as follows:
“The partnership began over dinner with Jada, Will, James Lassiter, and Jay-Z, where they decided to co-invest in the now successful beauty products line Carol’s Daughter. They continued this partnership as co-producers of the successful Broadway production Fela!, which earned a total of 11 Tony Award nominations in 2010. Additionally, Willow Smith, managed by OE Executive Michael Melendez, signed onto Jay-Z’s record label, Roc Nation, which produced her first single titled ‘Whip My Hair,’ which has been certified Platinum. Jay-Z previously sampled the classic Annie song ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’ in his chart-busting single ‘Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).”
Here’s what Sony had to say:
“The time is right to bring back Annie to the big screen. Of course, we’re true believers in Willow’s talent and believe she will be perfect in this role,” said Columbia Pictures President Doug Belgrad. “Combining Willow with the Overbrook team that reimagined Karate Kid and the spectacular Jay-Z makes this a dream project. A decade ago, Jay-Z proved that the power of the underlying Broadway property remains, by showing how these songs could be reinterpreted for a new generation with ‘Hard Knock Life.’ We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with our friends at Overbrook as they launch this new venture.”
Here’s Smith’s production company’s two cents:
“We are excited to partner together and develop and produce a wide variety of films with our longtime friend Jay-Z, with whom we share a common global vision, both commercially and philosophically, and look forward to collaborating once again with the incredibly talented executives at Sony,” said Overbrook Co-Founder James Lassiter.
Finally, here’s Jay-Z:
“The Overbrook Entertainment family and I have a unified vision. We’ve already produced a Tony Award-winning play and we’re developing a true superstar in Willow. This venture into film development and production is a perfect next step with teams that are accomplished, creative, and innovative.”