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Filming to finally start on Phantom

Category: Phantom of the Opera News
Article Date: August 16, 2003 | Publication: Calgary Herald | Author: Jamie Portman
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One of the most on-again-off-again projects in Hollywood history is finally heading for the big screen. The film version of the long-running Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Phantom Of The Opera, will begin filming at Britain's Pinewood Studios in the autumn.

That's the word from Scottish actor Gerard Butler who is checking out the state of his vocal cords as he prepares to take on the role of the masked Phantom for director Joel Schumacher.

Butler is starting to regard Pinewood as a second home. He spent several months there shooting the current Tomb Raider adventure, in which he plays a rogue secret service agent. "By the end of the year, I will have spent a large proportion of my life at Pinewood Studios, and it's not my favourite place on the planet," he says bluntly.

On the other hand, Butler knows Phantom Of The Opera is one of those dream opportunities that comes all too rarely. A musical will be a new departure for him -- his earlier credits include Trainspotting and Dracula 2000 -- and he knows he's taking on a role of legendary status.

Plans for a film version of one of the most successful stage musicals in history were first announced a decade ago, but they kept being postponed. One reported problem was Lloyd Webber, who has a reputation for being notoriously hands-on with his projects and who was not totally convinced he should go ahead with a movie while his show was still running on Broadway and in London. There were also prolonged discussions over the nature of the adaptation: Phantom is a semi-operatic sing-through musical on stage, but would this approach be acceptable to film audiences?

Butler says there have been changes. "There will be more talking in it," he concedes. But he adds the singing will not be short-changed. "The whole thing is going to be more filmic. You'll be allowed to express more subtle emotions rather than having to belt it out on stage, so that will be one big advantage of the film."

He says there's no simple explanation for the endless delays over bringing Phantom Of The Opera to movie screens. "There were always things cropping up. Andrew was busy -- Joel was busy -- it wasn't the right time -- they couldn't get studio space."

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