This Christmas will see the release of Disney’s Into The Woods, which features an all-star cast that boasts the likes of Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Emily Blunt and THE Meryl Streep. With a cast like this Oscars and blah blah blah—Guys! We could have had a Muppets version.
The Hollywood Reporter has dug deep into the long in-development adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical. And among the many intriguing tidbits they dug up was that the film nearly came together in mid 1990s with the Jim Henson Company. The idea was to mix Muppets and actors, much like The Muppet Christmas Carol did in 1992.
The Muppet Wiki notes that the script for this version was penned by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, hot off City Slickers, while Sondheim and Into The Woods book writer James Lapine were on board as consultants. Coming off of the success of A League of Their Own, Penny Marshall was on board to helm, and so pulled together a table read in Los Angeles. Her proposed cast gathered and included Cher as the Witch, Robin Williams as the Baker, Goldie Hawn as the Baker’s Wife, Steve Martin as the Wolf, and Danny DeVito as the Giant. Also attending were Eljah Wood (presumably for the role of Jack of Beanstalk storyhood), Roseanne Barr (maybe Jack’s abusive mum?), Bebe Neuwirth (who cares the role, she would have slayed it), Mayim Bialik (assuming Red Riding Hood), Brendan Fraser (presumably one of the princes), Kyle MacLachlan (other prince I’m betting), and Moira Kelly (Cinderella or Rapunzel likely).
By 1995 Marshall had left the project, replaced by Rob Minkoff (The Lion King), and production was expected to begin in the summer of ‘96—complete with four new Sondheim songs. By this point Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, and Susan Sarandon were set to star, presumably as the Baker his wife and The Witch. And then…nothing. THR reveals the project was axed because of a shakeup with Jim Henson Company producing partners Columbia Pictures. New execs dramatically tossed out projects associated with old execs and we lost a goddamn Muppet’s Into the Woods.
The execs may have looked like this:
Excuse me. I need to Muppet rage.