So Long, Hollywood: Kevin Smith, Seinfeld and Disney All Moving to Broadway

By  · Published on January 14th, 2014

All this business of staring at screens can be a little tiring. Film and television are incredibly entertaining mediums (as is the act of frenetically refreshing various websites for the latest news about film and television), but every once in a while, it can be nice to find a show that’s not a brightly-colored image projected onto something.

And like most of life’s problems, this one can be solved by leaping to one’s feet and belting out a showstopping Broadway musical number. It turns out that it’s a fairly common issue because all your favorite stars are rapidly making the change from Hollywood’s sound stages to New York City’s actual stages, and that statement is 100% factual as long as “your favorite stars” are Kevin Smith, the various creative folks behind Frozen, and Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.

Kevin Smith has already spent the past few years busily redefining the word “retirement,” and as of two weeks ago he’s added another picture to his now several-year-long goodbye from filmmaking: Helena Handbag. It’s the simple story of a gargantuan, rapture-crazed Jesus that walks the Earth smiting folks left and right, while humanity and Hell team up to save the Earth from its savior-turned-Godzilla. Smith knew, for obvious reasons, that no right-minded studio would ever pony up the money to bring Helena Handbag’s effects to life, and now it looks like he won’t be able to make the film at all:

“I got about 20 pages in when I realized there was no way to write this inexpensively as a feature film. Everything was requiring too many effects that I could never achieve using in-camera tricks like forced perspective. It was starting to feel like a pricier project than I know I’d ever be able to find money to make.”

And so Smith looked upon his current favorite thing of the moment, “the glorious Book of Mormon,” and re-imagined Helena Handbag in its image. On the one hand, Smith and company will have to create a real live giant Jesus, which may be significantly cheaper than a CGI one but will probably be no less difficult. But on the other hand, now the big guy might get a musical number or two. That’s probably one for the “plus” column.

So the Broadway show can exist for ease of budgeting. But the stage can bring about the opposite reaction- expanding on an already huge investment to create the closest thing to a money-printing machine. That’s Disney’s plan for Frozen– which has become such a colossal hit that the studio is finally comfortable merchandising the unholy hell out of it. Disney has no problems transplanting its biggest hits onto a live stage, as Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid have already undergone the same treatment. But for years, there hasn’t been a Disney hit big enough to justify another stage show. Now they’ve got one.

And even if this whole thing sounds remarkably profit-driven (which it kinda does), there’s still the very distinct possibility that a Frozen stage musical could be worth seeing. The Lion King’s Broadway adaptation was crammed with all kinds of visual goodness; a dreamy vision where a man could simultaneously portray three gazelles at once and not a soul would bat an eye. Plus, you’ve got Disney CEO Robert Iger proclaiming: “We’re not demanding speed. We’re demanding excellence.” Maybe Frozen will take its time and think up some ingenious snowman costume to make it all worthwhile.

So if some transition to Broadway for lack of money, and some make the change for overabundance of money, others might do the whole Broadway thing solely to remain a beautiful, bald-headed enigma. That’s Larry David’s plan, apparently. Having already teased a secret Seinfeld/David mystery project, David’s just now revealed that the mystery in question is a Broadway show. The legendary Seinfeld writer will be penning the script, while the legendary Seinfeld actor will be starring… maybe. Or directing. Perhaps producing. He’s involved somehow, that much we know for sure.

Maybe there’s a reason for David’s hush-hush approach to this new project. Maybe his Broadway ambitions and Disney’s are one and the same, and the new script David’s just penned is really Frozen: The Musical. All I know is, I’d give almost any amount of money to see Jerry Seinfeld as Princess Anna and Larry David as Olaf the bitter, bald and socially maladjusted snowman. You can charge double if there’s a giant Jesus stomping on everything in the background.