Bob Balaban
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Bob Balaban
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Plans are underway for a new movie version of South Pacific which will keep the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, but rework the script.

Based on James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific, the musical is set on an island during World War II and tells the story of two couples - US Navy nurse Nellie Forbush and French plantation owner Emile de Becque, and Navy Airman Joe Cable and young local native girl Liat. It was previously made into a 1958 film, starring Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi.

The new film will be produced by Amber Entertainment's Ileen Maisel, Tony nominee Bob Balaban's Chicagofilms, Denis Wigman of Imagem (the music publisher which owns the Rodgers & Hammerstein copyrights) and Ted Chapin, president of the Rodgers & Hammerstein company.

In a statement, Chapin credits the current Broadway revival of South Pacific (at the Vivian Beaumont Theater through August 22) as the inspiration for the new film treatment, saying that it led the producers to see "modern cinematic possibilities that challenge us all to interpret this masterpiece for new generations of filmgoers."

Press notes also quote Balaban as saying, "Our movie will be a tougher, more realistic retelling of the same classic story of two very different people whose love for each other transcends their enormous cultural differences. We think there's a whole new audience just waiting to fall in love with its magical score, epic romance, and exotic locale."