'We're developing a true superstar in Willow,' Jay says in a statement announcing the project.
By Aly Semigran
When Jay-Z sampled "It's a Hard Knock Life" from the classic Broadway show-turned-movie musical "Annie," who would have guessed it was simply a sneak preview of bigger things to come? It's been announced that Jay has teamed up with Overbrook Entertainment, a film production company whose partners include Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Lassiter and Ken Stovitz.
One of the first projects on the Jay-Z/Overbook agenda will, in fact, be remaking "Annie." After rumors hit the Net about the possibility of the update, Variety confirmed Wednesday (January 26) that Sony will bring the reimagining of the musical about a spirited orphan to the big screen.
Will and Jada plan to make a family affair out of this latest endeavor as their daughter, 10-year-old Willow Smith (who scored a massive hit last year with the infectious "Whip My Hair"), will play the coveted lead role.
In a statement, Jay-Z said of the group's latest venture, "The Overbrook Entertainment family and I have a unified vision," adding, "We're developing a true superstar in Willow."
Willow's rising star (the pint-size singer recently tweeted, "Are you excited for my album?! It's coming soon........VERY soon!!") prompted Columbia Pictures President Doug Belgrad to state, "The time is right to bring back 'Annie' to the big screen. We're true believers in Willow's talent and believe she will be perfect in this role."
Of course, this isn't the first time Jay, Lassiter and the Smiths have teamed up, as the power foursome worked as co-producers on the Tony-nominated Broadway show "Fela!" Nor is it the first time Overbrook (which has pulled in a staggering $2.5 billion in revenue) will make a film featuring one of the Smiths' children. In addition to releasing Will Smith's blockbuster movies including "Hitch" and "Hancock," their son Jaden Smith starred in Overbrook's "The Pursuit of Happyness" and, most recently, a remake of "The Karate Kid."
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