TheaterMania Logo
Film News

Stephen Sondheim Responds to Criticism About Disney-fied Into the Woods Film

The legendary Broadway composer straightens out rumors of major plot changes. logo
Stephen Sondheim issued a response to reports published by The New Yorker about censorship in Disney's upcoming Into the Woods film adaptation.
(© David Gordon)

Eight-time Tony-winning Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim has released a response to a recent New Yorker article that commented on several key plot changes that were expected to make their way to the upcoming film adaptation of his fairy tale-centric musical Into the Woods.

The article reported on statements Sondheim made in a meeting with a group of high school theater teachers about their challenges with artistic censorship. During the discussion, Sondheim spoke of his collaboration with Disney for the Into the Woods film and was reported to have said, "You will find in the movie that Rapunzel does not get killed, and the prince does not sleep with the Baker's Wife." He also stated that the song "Any Moment" was "probably cut," two significant alterations from the darker tone of his original material.

As outrage over the alterations has poured into the theater community, Sondheim issued the following response to clarify the recent reports:

"An article in The New Yorker misreporting my 'Master Class' conversation about censorship in our schools with seventeen teachers from the Academy for Teachers a couple of weeks ago has created some false impressions about my collaboration with the Disney Studio on the film version of Into the Woods. The fact is that James [Lapine, who wrote both the show and the movie] and I worked out every change from stage to screen with the producers and with Rob Marshall, the director. Despite what the New Yorker article may convey, the collaboration was genuinely collaborative and always productive."

"When the conversation with the teachers occurred, I had not yet seen a full rough cut of the movie. Coincidentally, I saw it immediately after leaving the meeting and, having now seen it a couple of times, I can happily report that it is not only a faithful adaptation of the show, it is a first-rate movie."

"And for those who care, as the teachers did, the Prince's dalliance is still in the movie, and so is 'Any Moment.'"

The film's cast includes Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) as the Baker's Wife, James Corden (One Man, Two Guvnors) as the Baker, Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) as Cinderella, Chris Pine (Star Trek Into Darkness) as Cinderella's Prince, Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean) as the Wolf, Daniel Huttlestone (Les Misérables film) as Jack, Lilla Crawford (Annie) as Little Red, Tracey Ullman as Jack's Mother, Christine Baranski (Boeing-Boeing) as the Stepmother, MacKenzie Mauzy (Next to Normal) as Rapunzel, and Billy Magnussen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) as Rapunzel's Prince.

The film is scheduled to be released on December 25.