Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha
Credit: Memoirs of a Geisha: David James

Why we can’t wait to see ”Memoirs of a Geisha”

RELEASE DATE Dec. 9, limited; Dec. 23, wide

WHY WE CAN’T WAIT This looks like the most sumptuous costume drama in years, starring three of the world’s greatest movie actresses and directed by Rob Marshall, who did the impossible in translating Chicago to the screen.

THE PREMISE Think of it as a Cinderella story: A poor girl (House of Flying Daggers‘ Ziyi Zhang, pictured) is transformed into a celebrated geisha by a fairy-godmother type (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘s Michelle Yeoh). Along the way, she confronts a wicked-stepmother type (Raise the Red Lantern‘s Gong Li) and meets her Prince Charming (The Last Samurai‘s Ken Watanabe).

SOURCE Arthur Golden’s best-selling novel

THE BACK STORY Zhang is used to wire work and acrobatics from movies like Daggers and Crouching Tiger, but here, her biggest challenge was learning to dance in 12-inch platform shoes. ”First time I saw them, I told the choreographer, ‘No, you’re kidding!”’ she says. ”Five hours a day, for several weeks I learned that dance. It was really difficult.”

BURNING QUESTION Will audiences flock to a big-budget spectacle set in Japan, without a single Hollywood star in the cast?

COME FOR The smoldering Ziyi Zhang

STAY FOR The even fierier Gong Li

Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Movie
  • 144 minutes