Last week’s buzz is now buzz with a business deal behind it: Jay-Z has partnered with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment in a joint venture “to develop and produce major motion pictures” — including bringing a re-imagined “Annie” to the big screen, with Willow Smith in the title role.
“A decade ago, Jay-Z proved that the power of the underlying Broadway property remains, by showing how these songs could be reinterpreted for a new generation with ‘Hard-Knock Life,'” Columbia Pictures President Doug Belgrad said in a statement, adding that Willow “will be perfect in this role.” Aileen Queen played the orphan in the 1982 film incarnation of the story.
Willow also is signed to Jay-Z’s record label, Roc Nation, which produced her single “Whip My Hair.”
Jay-Z, a.k.a. Shawn Carter and Mr. Beyonce, produced the Broadway show “Fela!,” the story of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, last year with the Smiths. Overbrook Entertainment, founded by Will Smith and James Lassiter, announced the movie joint venture Wednesday.
Overbrook has been behind the films “The Karate Kid” — which starred Willow’s brother Jaden Smith — “Ali,” “I Am Legend,” “Pursuit of Happyness” and “Hitch,” among others.