Updates Archive for Into the Woods

This weekend saw Into the Woods sweep into the US box office chart with a phenomenal 3-day $31M gross (and a 4-day $46.1M gross) making it the biggest ever US opening for a screen adaptation of a Broadway musical in history.

The film has now well and truly beaten the previous record holder Mamma Mia, which opened to a $27.8M three-day gross in 2008, as well as the $27.3M opening weekend figure for Les Miserables in 2012.

Into the Woods has also received multiple Golden Globe® nominations – Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Actress (Emily Blunt) and Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep), as well as London Critics’ Circle Film Award nominations – British Actress of the Year (Emily Blunt) and Young British Performer of The Year (Daniel Huttlestone), highlighting the film’s impressive wealth of great British talent, which also includes James Corden, Tracey Ullman and Lucy Punch.

Interest from all generations also made Into The Woods the 4th biggest Christmas Day opening ever in the US with families of all ages enjoying the big screen musical adventure. Since its release the film’s original motion picture soundtrack, featuring 20 show-stopping tracks, has also achieved top five best seller status on Amazon in the US and charted within the iTunes US music store top ten.

Reactions from both US & UK critics reflect the film’s US box outstanding office results:

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

“The film is a whirl of pure pleasure that just keeps whirling”

Stephen Holden, New York Times,

Splendid Disney screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

“The trip ‘Into the Woods’ is spooky, thoughtful, delightful.”

Lou Lumenick, New York Post

“Bewitching Into the Woods is this century’s best musical”

As the reviews pour in, let’s see what the critics have to say about Into the Woods!

Matt Tamanini, BroadwayWorld: For many musical theatre fans, a beloved Broadway musical, fairly faithfully, adapted into a stunning big screen success, is their most treasured of Christmas wishes. In recent years, however, the holidays have brought us near misses (LES MISERABLES), underwhelming disappointments (RENT), and outright abominations (NINE). However, Disney’s INTO THE WOODS, opening nationwide on Christmas Day, is those musical theatre fans’ wish fulfilled. With a cast of Hollywood A-listers and Broadway alums, all of whom prove more than capable of handling Stephen Sondheim‘s uniquely intricate and intellectual music and lyrics, this very well might be the most effectively adapted movie musical of the past half century. The lush orchestrations, the gorgeous settings, and the spectacular cast had a smile plastered on my face from the film’s first note until its last.

Pat Cerasaro, “Sound Off” column for BroadwayWorld: A new generation, a new era, a new take – a new INTO THE WOODS that glitters onscreen and glows in the hearts of those who let it in. A movie musical made for 2014, telling tales told countless times before in a thoughtful, meaningful and sophisticated manner, INTO THE WOODS on film lands right where we always wanted it to – square between our brains, eyes, ears and hearts. A wish fulfilled, overflowing with love.

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Streep, in striking blue hair and long twisted nails, is at the heart of the mayhem, having dangled the promise of a baby to the childless Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt) and her husband (James Corden). Blunt brings just the right blend of poignancy and humor to her character and is also a lovely singer…Another treat is Anna Kendrick’s Cinderella, who has more angst and depth than the familiar cheery Disney version.

Alan Henry, BroadwayWorld: Streep is brilliant and unique in her role. Her witch is quirky, unpredictable, and terrifying. Streep sings gloriously in this picture, and delivers everything from beautiful, legato singing lines sung flawlessly all the way to a high belt with the perfect amount of vibrato. For me, this performance is an obvious Oscar contender… Rob Marshall has crafted an excellent film for all ages. It is an excellent introduction to more sophisticated musical theatre – or a great medium in which to revisit a familiar classic. If you’re looking for an engaging, family-friendly film to take in on Christmas day, this is the right choice for you. If you’re looking for a feel-good holiday film, be forewarned this just might not be your cup of tea.

Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair: Though she doesn’t have much to do, Tracey Ullman was an inspired choice to play Jack’s mother. Christine Baranski is also well chosen, appropriately daffy and imperious as Cinderella’s stepmother. As that forlorn hearth sweep, Anna Kendrick shows a knack for Sondheim’s particular phrasing, and sings both nimbly and sweetly in “On the Steps of the Palace” and “No One Is Alone.” Emily Blunt isn’t quite as vocally gifted, but she gives the Baker’s Wife the required amount of earthy spunk. I had my doubts about Chris Pine, who plays Prince Charming, but he and Broadway vet Billy Magnussen do a wonderful “Agony” together, that blissfully goofy song best surviving the stage-to-screen translation.

Catherine Shoard, The Guardian: a clutch of very fine performances help see you though: predictability Meryl Streep, best at her most vulnerable; less predictably Emily Blunt, who’s fresh and very funny as the baker’s wife, consistently rising above the pack with off-beat readings. Her embarrassed encounters with the prince channel early Emma Thompson, her easily swayed heart is sweet and human in a land of cutouts. She can sing, too. It’s this shock combo which presumably earned her a Golden Globe nomination alongside Streep, rather than the much-fancied Anna Kendrick, who makes less of an impression as indecisive Cinders.

Jordan Adler, We Got This Covered: This swift moving, sensationally acted adaptation has such an appealing cast of crowd-pleasers – among them, the spritely Anna Kendrick and a ravishing Meryl Streep – giving their all, that Marshall has the actors perform out to the audience, again. The effect is dizzying enjoyment and entertainment. Even those who normally scoff at movie musicals will find it hard to resist a swooning Chris Pine and As The World Turns’ Billy Magnussen mugging to the camera as they explain their romantic woe in the song “Agony.”

Stephen Collins, Britishtheatre.com: The third surprise is the excellent way the magic is realised. Not really a surprise, I guess, because film can achieve more than stage every time – but here there is wonderful illusion: the wild, explosive appearances and disappearances of the Witch, the evocation of Cinderella’s dress, the beanstalk, the revival from death of Milky White, the blue moon, the remarkable ending to Last Midnight. The magic is beautifully, compellingly realised.

Scott Foundas, Variety: For all those reasons and more, the chief virtue of this “Into the Woods” is a feeling of relief. Marshall hasn’t made one of the great movie musicals here, but he hasn’t bungled it either – far from it. Aficionados who know the show by heart will fully recognize what they see here (and actually be able to see it, after the frantic, seizure-inducing editing of “Chicago” and “Nine”), while new audiences will more than get the gist, a touch condensed and Disneyfied perhaps, but to little overall detriment.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: screenwriter James Lapine, adapting his own book for the show, has retained the balance of dark and light, shaping a cohesive story of resilience and maturation out of multiple strands without leaning too hard on the sentiment. What was played for gallows humor onstage is often treated more earnestly here, and the violence and tragedy are suggested more than shown. But there’s enough Brothers Grimm in the tone to offset charges of Disney-fication.

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph: But that’s more than enough magic to be getting on with, and you don’t miss a surer hand or livelier eye in charge. The film is a whirl of pure pleasure that just keeps whirling: Sondheim doesn’t write show-stoppers but show-surgers, and from the moment the glorious opening number whips up, introducing the central players, the film cartwheels onwards until it lands at its unexpected but quite beautiful happy-ever-after with a Jack-and-Jill-sized bump.

Alonso Duralde, The Wrap: The unexpected standouts here are Blunt, who manages the songs, the comedy and the despair of the baker’s wife with utter brilliance, and Chris Pine (channeling all the inner Shatner that he’s kept out of the “Star Trek” movies) and Billy Magnussen (“Damsels in Distress”) as the charming princes whose duet on “Agony” is a comic highlight. Preening, pouting and posing their way through a catalog of angst, these two showboat like contestants in a Fabio-hosted reality show dance-off.

Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent: You can’t help but think the film would have been better suited to the Gothic imagination of a Tim Burton than to a director like Marshall, who specialises in more conventional adaptations of musicals. It has been made with plenty of high spirits but in a very choppy way. Some moments work, some don’t. The film-makers aren’t exactly lost in the woods, but nor do they ever give us much sense that they know or care in which direction they are going.

Necrobot in Movies, Big Shiny Robot: James Corden is perhaps the most unexpectedly awesome member of the cast. He manages to find the emotional core of his character while remaining charming and approachable. In contrast to Corden’s humble Baker, Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen are perfectly self-absorbed as the pair of princes who are out to court Cinderella and Rapunzel. Their performance of “Agony” while artfully tearing their shirts open in the middle of a rushing creek was nothing short of comedic gold.

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily: The audience will have a fine time – the characters, less so – with Into The Woods, an energetic, likable adaptation of the beloved musical from Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. A darkly comic, sneakily touching tale of a collection of fairy tale icons who discover how hard it is to find a happy ending, this big-screen version ably demonstrates the staying power of Sondheim’s 28-year-old tunes and the mythic resonance of Lapine’s storytelling. Director Rob Marshall gives the film a professional polish, and while the results aren’t always inspired, the source material is strong enough that it hardly matters.

Stella Papamichael, Digital Spy: Thank goodness for a constellation of stars who manage to rise above, particularly Meryl Streep whose wicked witch livens up many a scene. James Corden and Emily Blunt spark off each other well, too, as the humble baker and his wife who are childless thanks to one of the witch’s spells and venture into the woods in an effort to break it…This isn’t a happily ever after kind of fairytale, but it seems that Marshall and Disney haven’t really come to an agreement on what kind of story it should be and crucially, who it’s aimed at.

David Edelstein, Vulture: Now here it is, getting a full, lavish Disney studio production with big-deal movie stars (Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp) and somehow working as well if not better than it did almost 30 years ago on Broadway. My euphoria lasted a long, long time … but all good things must end. The good-hearted plodder of a baker and his goosey wife are the real protagonists of Into the Woods, and they’re all you could hope for here. James Corden is a wonderfully funny, self-effacing bloke – I’m thrilled at the prospect of seeing him nightly, hosting his own show after Colbert. Maybe he’ll have Emily Blunt as a guest. It’s her movie. Dizzy, pop-eyed, blurty, she gives this unwieldy saga its daft, farcical heart.

Elizabeth Weitzman, NY Daily News: Loyal fans of the Sondheim original may feel a bit let down themselves. There’s much to love here. But working with original “Woods” writer and Sondheim collaborator James Lapine, Marshall tones down the crucial dark shading in some places and has trouble with pacing in others. Still, the life lessons are delivered with insight and heart, the rightfully beloved music is well handled and the cast is so enthusiastic that we can excuse some rough patches.

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: The marquee attraction, of course, is Meryl Streep as a singing witch. The good news is, she not only looks like she’s having a blast, she’s far better belting show tunes in a fright wig and crone’s putty than she was without them in Mamma Mia! But the show really belongs to James Corden (a Tony winner for One Man, Two Guvnors) and Emily Blunt as his-and-hers bakers whose quest to track down a laundry list of mystical doodads like Little Red’s cape and Jack’s white cow drives the plot. They’re not just adorable in their desire to reverse the witch’s curse and start a family, they’ve also got impressive pipes.

Lovely clip of MacKensie and Billy chatting to CineMovie (new scene from Into the Woods too!) …

How many stars can really say they let their hair down for their breakout movie role?

“I kind of didn’t believe it; it was like too good to be true,” MacKenzie Mauzy said of her fairy tale experience playing the famously long-locked Rapunzel in Disney’s “Into the Woods,” which opens Christmas Day.

Landing the storybook role in the movie musical was a “dream,” given how things began.

Mauzy, 26, told the Daily News that she first auditioned for the part of Cinderella. But the glass slipper didn’t fit, and the plum role went to Anna Kendrick.

Yet Mauzy brought a bit of magic to the audition. “They were looking for (Kendrick) first, but director Rob Marshall saw the tape and then brought me back in for Rapunzel,” she recalled.

Marshall told The News that he recognized the “vulnerability” and “emotion” Mauzy could bring to Rapunzel after she read just one line.

“My hope with casting, my philosophy is you have to make no decisions at all because someone comes in and claims the role and they bring it to life like you can’t quite imagine,” Marshall said. “I just thought, ‘There’s Rapunzel!’ ”

Mauzy, a native of North Carolina who now calls New York City home, boasts experience on Broadway, in “A Tale of Two Cities,” and in the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Now she’s ready for her starring turn on the silver screen, hair extensions and all.

“They wanted to use my hair. The top is my hair and they just braided it into the extension,” she said of her on-screen coiffure, which she called “a tripping hazard.”

“There were pretty extensions and then there were stunt ones that people climbed!” she added. “There was a full day of climbing hair and I was like hooked in. I could not get out of it unless I had assistance.”

When Mauzy’s Rapunzel finally let down her hair (and extensions) it certainly weighed her down — but nothing could have grounded the young actress enough to prepare her for the moment when she realized she’d be acting opposite Meryl Streep, a three-time Oscar winner.

“You know you hear Meryl Streep plays your mom and you don’t exactly think, ‘Oh yeah, I got this,’ ” Mauzy joked. “I have obviously looked up to Meryl and respected her for a long time, so that was just sort of surreal — at least for me, it was a dream.”

And Streep was nothing like the witchy mom she plays in the movie, Mauzy said.

“She is very aware of the affect she has in a room that people are like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Meryl Streep,’ ” Mauzy recounted. “There was a certain time where she was like a mom character to me (off set), like she was making comments about what I was ordering at restaurants. She was sort of playing that role a little bit in public.”

Filming the music-powered scenes with Streep was, Mauzy said with emotion, “the best day of my life.”

“There was something about it in the moment, obviously because it is her, but there was always a sense of openness to trying this other way of doing it, depending on how it felt,” she said of their artistic give-and-take.

It was a bit of a fairy tale situation for Into the Woods stars Mackenzie Mauzy, who plays Rapunzel and Billy Magnussen who portrays her Prince in the Rob Marshall-directed modern musical twist on the Brothers Grimm.

For both, their Toronto trip was their first time on a press tour with a big studio picture and they were clearly enjoying the experience.
Into the Woods also stars Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp and includes well-loved tales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and, of course, Rapunzel. The movie opens Dec. 25.

It wasn’t all magical making the movie version of the Broadway hit. Mauzy had a heavy, 10-metre hunk of hair sewn into a braided circle on top of her head daily to play the maiden trapped in a high tower, accessible only by climbing up her lengthy locks.
And then there were the real snakes — unseen on camera but all too obvious to the phobic Mauzy — she had to deal with after leaping into a swamp in one dramatic scene.

As for Magnussen, he had to learn to ride and took lessons to look the part of the Prince. Although he was a novice rider, he had to gallop on his steed blindfolded in several scenes. Spoiler alert: his sideburns are stick-on; Magnussen wasn’t able to grow his own.
Magnussen said his most challenging time on set came when he wrapped on Into the Woods. “It was the hardest day,” said Magnussen. “I didn’t want to leave that fairy tale.”

The Star asked Mauzy (MM) and Magnussen (BM) to answer these five questions:

If your Into the Woods characters were in Toronto, where would you do your scenes?
BM: CN Tower! Boom baby, it’s right there, it’s so high. There’s also the Ontario College of Art. That would be cool.

If you could swap roles with anyone in the film, who would you play?
MM: Jack (Daniel Huttlestone). I think it’s such a fun role. I like giants in the sky and he’s such a passionate character and there’s a great arc to his story.
BM: I guess the Baker (James Corden) because he overcomes such a huge obstacle of breaking the chain of his father’s choices and to have the courage to become the father he needs to be and wants to be.

Both of you are teamed onscreen with big stars. What was it like working with Chris Pine (Cinderella’s Prince, brother of Rapunzel’s Prince) and Meryl Streep (the Witch, who takes Rapunzel and raises her as her daughter)?
BM: I can say I have a friend now (in Pine). He’s generous, a smart actor and just a good friend now. I really think he’s wonderful.
MM: Amazing. (Streep) gives you so much in a scene and you receive it and give something back as a product of that and something new is created … and she’s a wonderful human being. Very aware of the effect she has on a room and does everything she can to make you feel comfortable. She’s a wonderful woman: mother, friend, actress, leader, she really brought this cast together.

You both come from daytime dramas. (Magnussen on As The World Turns and Mauzy on Guiding Light, and The Bold and the Beautiful). Who from Into the Woods would you like to see on a soap?
BM: The Witch is the aunt that comes in and says: “I slept with your brother!” I have to say soaps were the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s like boot camp for acting.
MM: I think Chris Pine’s Prince is such a daytime drama hunk character.

Do you believe in happily ever after?
BM: I realized at least for Rapunzel’s Prince, you’re not Prince Charming but you can be right for someone. You’re not prefect.
MM: Happily ever after has this thing attached to it that implies things have to be perfect and that’s the misconception. I do believe in long-term relationships that can be really beautiful that doesn’t mean there isn’t gong to be a struggle along the way. There is a level of it that requires work, not just a relationship but happily ever after in a job or whatever that means to you. I think that’s what Into the Woods addresses: these people getting what they wanted and then having to deal with the consequences.

Source: Toronto Star

Here are a bunch of new interviews with Mackenzie for Into the Woods, including her appearance on BT (Breakfast Television) with Billy Magnussen. We will add some screengrabs to the gallery later too.

MacKenzie Mauzy, Billy Magnussen and Lilla Crawford stopped by Facebook to have a chat with the fans about the upcoming Into the Woods movie, here are some of MacKenzies answers. Check out more and follow INTO THE WOODS on Facebook here.

This is for all of you guys: What was your reaction when you got your characters?
I just said “WHAT. WHAT. WHAT.” I couldn’t really process it. It was a Saturday morning. I believed it but didn’t believe it. I kept saying “I’ll believe it when I’m there in London”. It was surreal.

Who is the jokester out of the three of you?
Billy! (laughing). No contest! He’s got a lot of energy, especially at 5:00am. He’s great at waking people up in the morning.

How does it feel to be forever immortalized as these characters?
Surreal but incredible. It’s not something I ever envisioned for myself. It’s a responsibility and an honor.

What is your favorite lesson in Into the Woods? Why?
My favorite line is wishes comes true, not free. Its not saying “don’t wish, don’t dream” – people get caught up in the dream without realizing what those consequences could be or the reality of getting what you want. It may not be what you expected.

How was it working with Meryl Streep and was it intimidating?
It was intimidating initially because its someone who I grew up loving. She instantly does everything to make you feel comfortable. There was never any awkwardness because she’s so good about that. I was intimidated to work with her but I got the nerves out of the way quickly and it just became my life for that four months.

What is your favorite song in the musical?
They’re all so beautiful but my favorite is probably “Last Midnight”. Especially with Meryl singing it.

Since you all have a background in theatre and now film, which one do you find most challenging?
I think they’re both challenging. Theater is live and you’re dealing with those consequences. Film has its own challenges in that its so intimate. You have to pretend no one is there watching you. They’re so different I think they both have their challenges in each medium.

Without revealing too much, what was the most fun to film?
The “Stay With Me” day. It was a day where we filmed almost all the scenes inside the tower in Meryl.

What’s your favorite musical?
Les Misérables and Ragtime were the first two musicals I saw on Broadway but if I had to choose just one it would be Les Misérables.

We have added x46 photos of Mackenzie looking absolutely stunning last night at the world premiere of Into the Woods held at the Ziegfeld Theater last night in New York City ..

Check out this wonderful interview with Mackenzie for Into the Woods where she talks about working with Meryl Streep and what its like to play Rapunzel in the upcoming movie. We have added x80 screencaps to the gallery too. Enjoy!

After a trailer or two, we’re finally getting to hear some real singing from Into the Woods. Mackenzie doesn’t sing herself in this clip but she is featured with Meryl Streep singing one of the musical’s most famous songs, “Stay With Me”.

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