It felt like only a matter of time before someone made a move to bring Dear Evan Hansen to the big screen, and now that journey has begun.
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the Tony-winning music and lyrics for the Broadway hit, sold the film rights to Universal Pictures and director Stephen Chbosky (Wonder) is now in early talks to helm, as Deadline first reported.
Steven Levenson, winning the Tony for writing the musical’s book, is also attached to pen the script, while the musical’s Best Actor Tony winner Ben Platt is reportedly in early talks to reprise his role. (Say “Tony” one more time…)
The story follows Evan Hansen, a high schooler suffering from anxiety who crafts a story to become closer to the family of a classmate who died by suicide. The production was nominated for nine Tony awards (there it is again) following its Broadway debut in December 2016 and won six, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, and Best Orchestrations.
Chbosky, coming off of the release of Wonder with Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay, previously dealt with the musical’s themes of suicide and teen mental illness with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a film he also wrote based on his own novel of the same name.
It feels like the right time for a film adaptation to start making headway, given Pasek and Paul’s Hollywood achievements. They shared an Oscar win for Best Original Song with La La Land‘s “City of Stars” and they entered the awards season race the following year with a nomination for “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman.
Those songs from the Hugh Jackman vehicle clearly made an impact as the film quickly became a hit despite lukewarm reviews. A Reimagined soundtrack was recently released with Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Kesha, Sara Bareilles, and more.
When asked about the potential for a Dear Evan Hansen movie last December, Paul told Collider, “We’ll see. That would really cool. Everything sounds good in theory, but until you get the thing right, it’s like is there a reason for it to go to film or is there a reason for a movie to go to stage? It always has to happen for the right reasons.”
Looks like they found their reason.