Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis to star in 'Annie'
It's no coincidence that Sony chose Oscar day to issue a press release confirming the rumored casting. Although "Beasts" earned a modest but respectable $11 million at the U.S. box office last year, both the film and Wallis have seen a major boost in awareness since earning four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Actress.
"With the recent Academy Award nomination and critical acclaim, Quvenzhané Wallis is a true star and we believe her portrayal as Annie will make her a true worldwide star," Columbia Pictures' president of production Hannah Minghella said in a statement. "She is an extraordinary young talent with an amazing range, not only as an actress but as a singer and dancer, and we can't wait for audiences to further discover her."
Wallis steps into the role of plucky orphan Annie that was originally expected to be a vehicle for Willow Smith -- the 12-year-old "Whip My Hair" singer has supposedly "outgrown" the part.
It has also been rumored that Smith's father, Will Smith, may play Daddy Warbucks in the film. At the moment, he remains on board as part of a producing team that includes his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and hip-hop star Jay-Z.
Will Gluck ("Easy A") is directing and has been working on the script which was adapted by Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada") and actress-writer Emma Thompson.
A revival of the musical is currently on Broadway, and Jane Lynch is scheduled to join the cast as Miss Hannigan beginning in May. (Lynch wouldn't be a bad idea for the movie either, but we'll see what direction they go in.)
Sony has scheduled "Annie" for release during the 2014 winter holiday season.