It was shopped around for a while, Disney was finally willing to pull the trigger, and at some point, you either say no to the enormous entertainment behemoth that is flexing serious muscle on Broadway these days, or you say yes and divert what you can.
I don't think Steve is an artist so much as a talented writer. His mindset isn't 100% commercial, but neither is he working purely for the form. He's audience-driven. More Tennyson than Whitman, really. And that conversation about the difficulty of getting certain work into the schools is a point in favour of "is a somewhat bowdlerised Into the Woods better than not encouraging kids to engage with darker material at all?" Because that's the option that's available right now, whether or not Disney is producing a film version. Disney is just the same conversation taken up a level because it's not just about the community in which one high school is based but thousands of communities with varying cultures that need a single answer.
It can hardly be what Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman did to Gregory Maguire's Wicked, now, can it? You can tell that much from these leaks, at least. And if a substantial portion of "ever after isn't particularly happy - shit happens in life and you have to work through it and make your own future over and over again" gets through, isn't that a good thing for those audiences who have never had a shot at the full musical anyway? Isn't that who the films are really for rather than the hardcore fans?
That may be what is driving Sondheim on this. He wants audiences to see his work, this opens it up to huge audiences, and the original is still there to subvert the slightly "cleaner" version that anyone with a half a brain (including Steve) knew Disney would enforce. Everyone does remember that a licensed Into the Woods Jr that cuts the entire second act exists, right? Sondheim and Lapine have allowed that for years. The film probably splits the difference.Howard Sherman
covers the context of what was yanked from the New Yorker article. My opinion on this isn't derived from Sherman (there's a Jr edition already if anyone wants to complain about bowlerization, and I've always expected the movie would suck so I don't have a heart to break when it comes down to it), but I think his discussion of the context is useful.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard