Lin-Manuel Miranda: The long and winding road to bring “In the Heights” to theaters

The film “In the Heights” by the composer, playwright and actor of Puerto Rican descent Lin – Manuel Miranda, based on his homonymous musical about a Latin neighborhood in New York and directed by Jon M Chu, will be released on 11 June in theaters simultaneously with HBO Max, then a tortuous path, caused – as in so many other cases – by the coronavirus pandemic. However, the son of Puerto Ricans is happy with the expectation: “Due to the specificity of that struggle, I cannot tell you how many people have taken the time to tell me how much it means to them.”

”  In the Heights” released its latest trailer on March 15 through the Warner Studios YouTube account, in which it has received almost 8 million visits. The film tells the story of a very diverse group of people who live in the same neighborhood, Washington Heights, In the Heights full movie north of Manhattan. There, Usnavi runs a small winery, although he faces the conflict of closing it and returning to his home country, the Dominican Republic. Through music he will show that the Hispanic neighborhood is not invisible, and that although the world is full of dreamers, he intends to achieve his dream.

Miranda presented the musical for the first time on Broadway in 2008, a work that won him 4 Tony Awards, thus launching his career in the industry. It was at this point that several producers tried to make the story change so that it took a different course, as Lin-Manuel explains in an interview for Variety magazine: “I received proposals from producers who only had ‘West Side Story’ in their cultural memory. Why isn’t she pregnant? Why isn’t she in a gang? Why isn’t she coming out of an abusive relationship at Stanford? Those are all the real things they proposed to me. ” He added, “Because the pressure to leave your neighborhood to go to school is enough. And if it’s not dramatic enough, it’s our responsibility to show you what’s at stake.”

Despite the pressures, his memories of growing up in a Latino neighborhood in New York, more specifically in Washington Heights, where he learned the limitation he had in the industry for being Latino, and where he experienced first-hand the union of a community of Immigrants fighting to succeed in that city, made him stand firm and faithful to the work.

He also explained that the rights to the film were acquired by Universal Pictures but that the film was never shot: “I thought that once a studio bought the rights to the film, the film was being made. I did not know the large tonnage of miles between the acquisition of the rights and the green light. You can find interviews in which I say that the movie ‘In the Heights’ is happening at any moment! ”

After a shoot that never happened, he created “Hamilton” (2020), the film that led him to stardom. The media uproar for this success meant that “En el barrio / In the Heights” was “in fashion” again and the Weinstein Company acquired the rights. However, the film producer’s sex scandals made Miranda want to regain ownership so as not to dirty his work.

It was thus, as in the end the title ended up in the hands of Warner Bros, which decided to produce the film. The studios are in the process of opening their doors to multiculturalism, supporting inclusivity. In fact, they have partnered with Hispanic and Latino organizations like the National Hispanic Media Coalition, to “assist with outreach and ensure authenticity on screen.”

The cast consisting of Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Barrera, among others, was placed under the orders of the renowned director Jon M. Chu, known for titles such as “GI Joe: La Venganza / GI Joe: Retaliation” (2013 ), “Street Dance / Step Up 2” (2008), “Now you see me / Now you see me” (2016) among others. Chu, of Chinese origin, also suffered discrimination in the industry and understood the need to create diverse narratives involving actors of all kinds.

The filmmaker explained to Variety the difficulty of making films like these: “When you try to make stories that change what we’ve seen before, you can get caught up in the little things. But you try to do everything you can, to be as honest as possible.” .

After years of long and tortuous road since its premiere on stage, “En el barrio / In the Heights” will premiere simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming platform and in theaters on June 11.

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