Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Sony Pictures is setting Will Gluck to helm Annie, the re-imagining of the Broadway musical. The helmer who directed Easy A and Friends With Benefits for Sony-based Screen Gems takes on a high-profile project that will be produced by James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Will Smith through their Overbrook Entertainment banner, and by Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Jay Brown, and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith through Marcy Media. Willow Smith is no longer attached; she was 9 when development began and she has outgrown the role of Annie.

Gluck will revise the film’s screenplay, which was written by Emma Thompson and rewritten by Aline Brosh McKenna based on the musical and its book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin. That’s based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. The movie is contemporized and will shoot in the fall for a 2014 release.

Commenting on the announcement, Sony’s Doug Belgrad and Hannah Minghella said, “After seeing firsthand his work on several films for Sony, including Easy A and Friends With Benefits, we’re huge fans of Will Gluck. At the helm of Annie, he will bring to this film all the charm of the original Broadway production while also appealing to a new generation.”

Jay Z, who previously sampled the classic Annie song It’s The Hard Knock Life in Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem), stated, “For Marcy Media’s first foray into film, we couldn’t ask for better partners and mentors than Overbrook Entertainment. We are excited to work with Will Gluck and Sony Pictures Entertainment. My well-known affinity for the classic ‘Hard Knock Life’ makes Annie a natural vehicle to lead us into the world of the cinema.”

Pic is the first from Overbrook’s feature partnership with Carter, a union that also included the Broadway hit Fela!