Hamilton (2020 film)
Official release poster
|Directed by||Thomas Kail|
|Written by||Lin-Manuel Miranda|
|Based on||Alexander Hamilton|
by Ron Chernow
|Music by||Lin-Manuel Miranda|
|Edited by||Jonah Moran|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
|Budget||$12.5 million (stage production)|
Hamilton is a 2020 American musical film comprising a live recording of the 2015 Broadway musical, in turn inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It was directed and produced by Thomas Kail and produced, written, and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda also stars as first Treasury Secretary and Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, along with the musical's original principal Broadway cast.
Hamilton was originally planned for theatrical release on October 15, 2021; however, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film had a digital worldwide release on Disney+ on July 3, 2020. The film was acclaimed by critics for its visuals, performances, and direction.
Divided in two acts, the musical depicts the life and career of Alexander Hamilton, an orphaned immigrant from the Caribbean island of Nevis. The first act covers Hamilton's arrival in New York City in 1776, his work as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington during the American Revolution, and how he met and married Eliza Schuyler. The second act covers Hamilton's postwar work as the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, his affair with Maria Reynolds, the death of his son Philip and finally his own death in a duel with Aaron Burr.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton
- Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton
- Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr
- Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler
- Christopher Jackson as George Washington
- Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson
- Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan and James Madison
- Anthony Ramos as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton
- Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds
- Jonathan Groff as King George III
- Sydney James Harcourt as Philip Schuyler, James Reynolds, doctor and ensemble
- Thayne Jasperson as Samuel Seabury and ensemble
- Jon Rua as Charles Lee and ensemble
- Ephraim Sykes as George Eacker and ensemble
The film is edited together from three performances of Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in Midtown Manhattan in June 2016 with the original principal Broadway cast members, prior to the departure of Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo and Ariana DeBose from the production, combined with a few "setup shots" recorded without an audience present. These shots included approximately 13 or 14 musical numbers that were captured with the use of a Steadicam, crane and dolly. This footage, shot by RadicalMedia, was originally filmed to be spliced into the 2016 documentary Hamilton's America. The film includes a one-minute intermission.
The film features the majority of the original Broadway cast, minus ensemble members Betsy Struxness and Emmy Raver-Lampman who left in March and April 2016 respectively – their tracks are covered by Hope Easterbrook and Elizabeth Judd. Jonathan Groff, who departed the role of King George III in April and was replaced by Rory O'Malley, returned to the production to reprise his role for the film. He also provides, in character, the voice of the pre-show announcer at the beginning of the film, welcoming the audience to the show.
On February 3, 2020, it was announced that Walt Disney Studios had acquired the worldwide distribution rights for the film for $75 million. Disney successfully outbid multiple competitors, including Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox (which would eventually be acquired by Disney) and Netflix, which had all expressed interest in the film rights. The deal, reportedly one of the most expensive film rights acquisitions, was negotiated by Walt Disney Pictures president Sean Bailey and placed into motion after Disney CEO Bob Iger approached the producers with personal interest in acquiring the film rights. The film is produced by Miranda, Jeffrey Seller, and Kail.
- "My Shot (Rise Up Remix)" – The Roots featuring Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz and Nate Ruess
- "Dear Theodosia" (Instrumental) – Orchestra
- "Exit Music" – Orchestra
The film was originally scheduled for an October 15, 2021 theatrical wide release by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, but was later moved up to July 3, 2020, on Disney+, as announced by Disney and Miranda on May 12, 2020, in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the film industry and the performing arts that also impacted the Broadway, West End, and touring productions. This move was also done to get the film released in time for the Fourth of July weekend, on the 244th anniversary of the independence of the United States. The producers were initially reluctant to switch from a theatrical release to a streaming release when Iger proposed the idea, but relented after it became clear that Broadway stage productions were unlikely to reopen in 2020. On the weekend of the film's release, the Disney+ app was downloaded 266,084 times, a 72% increase from the past four weeks' total.
Hamilton received a PG-13 rating by the MPA for "language and some suggestive material". To avoid an R-rating, two instances of the "fuck" expletive are omitted from "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" and "Washington on Your Side"; however a third, partially unfinished one used in "Say No to This" is retained, making it the first film released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner to feature the expletive. A fourth one, used in "The Adams Administration" is also kept in, but it is intentionally bleeped for comedic effect as part of the show and its cast album.
A behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of the film, entitled Hamilton In-Depth with Kelley Carter, premiered on The Undefeated and Disney+ the same day as the film. It features journalist Kelley L. Carter hosting a roundtable discussion with Thomas Kail and members of the cast about the musical's origins, its significance in pop culture, and how its story and portrayal of historical events resonate with the modern-day discussions about social injustice and systemic racism.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Hamilton holds an approval rating of 98% and an average rating of 9.18/10, based on 168 reviews. The site's critics consensus reads: "Look around, look around at how beautifully Hamilton shines beyond Broadway – and at how marvelously Thomas Kail captures the stage show's infectious energy." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 90 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Peter Debruge, in his review for Variety, wrote: "For those fortunate enough to see Hamilton on stage, this will be a welcome reminder of being among the first to witness such a revolutionary piece of American theater. And if you couldn't get tickets at the time (some of which fetched more than the value of Cares Act stimulus payments), this 2 1/2-hour release represents an incredible equalizing moment". Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times wrote "For those of us who have never seen the stage show, and have compensated by spending many happy hours with the soundtrack, it's a particular pleasure to be figuratively ushered into the live Richard Rodgers Theater audience, whose applause you often hear and whose presence you sometimes glimpse in passing. Unaltered from that initial staging, apart from some seamless editing (by Jonah Moran) and the silencing of a few family-unfriendly expletives, this filmed Hamilton is somehow both a four-year-old time capsule and a timely encounter with the present."
Rafer Guzmán of Newsday gave the film 3 stars out of 4, writing "Directed with a steady hand by Thomas Kail, Hamilton doesn't quite capture the electricity of a live performance, though mid-song laughs and cheers can occasionally be heard from the audience (there's also a one-minute intermission). Hamilton will surely return when Broadway does, but for now this document will serve nicely in its stead." David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a grade of A– and said: "This is Hamilton as you always wanted to see it, and it always will be. And with Disney+ releasing it just in time for the Fourth of July, it doubles as a perfect reminder that America is only worth celebrating because of what it aspires to be — the version of it we see in our minds' eye, and not the one that's petrified on the pages of our history books."
David Rooney, in his review for The Hollywood Reporter, praised Kail's directing by writing "The art of the filmed performance has evolved considerably since the days when a camera or two were plonked down at the rim of the stage and the show unfolded as a static theatrical facsimile. Since staging Hamilton, director Thomas Kail has been sharpening his skills on television work like Grease Live! — still by far the best of the recent spate of live TV musicals — and Fosse/Verdon, a striking hybrid of theatrical performance and conventional narrative."
A.O. Scott of The New York Times named the film a "Critic's Pick", praising the timeliness of its release stating "One lesson that the past few years should have taught — or reconfirmed — is that there aren’t any good old days. [...] This four-year-old performance of 'Hamilton,' viewed without nostalgia, feels more vital, more challenging then ever."
- Radulovic, Petrana. "Disney releasing filmed version of Hamilton in theaters in 2021". Polygon. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
- "Hamilton: Press Kit" (PDF). The Walt Disney Studios. p. 9. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
- @Lin_Manuel (May 22, 2020). "Oh! Um, including credits it's exactly 2 hours and 40 mins. So once you have it, start #Hamilfilm at exactly 9:20pm? (Wait WHAT HAPPENS AT MIDNIGHT Steven)" (Tweet). Retrieved May 22, 2020 – via Twitter.
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- Fleming, Mike (February 6, 2020). "Disney Makes Bruno Mars Deal; Platinum-Selling Singer Will Star In, Produce Music-Driven Theatrical Film". Deadline.com. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
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- @Lin_Manuel (February 3, 2020). "Disney presents: Hamilton. With The Original Broadway Cast. Filmed onstage at The Richard Rodgers Theatre. In A Theater Near You. October 15, 2021" (Tweet). Retrieved February 3, 2020 – via Twitter.
- "Disney to bring hit musical Hamilton to the big screen". The Guardian. February 3, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
- May 12; 2020. "BREAKING: Filmed Broadway production of HAMILTON will stream THIS July online!". Stream Broadway Shows & Musicals Online | Filmed on Stage. Retrieved July 7, 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- Gartenberg, Chaim. "Hamilton is coming to theaters and Disney+, thanks to Disney's endless hunger for content". The Verge. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
- Brueggemann, Tom (July 7, 2020). "'Hamilton' Rules Disney+ Over July 4, but the VOD Success Story Is Rod Lurie's 'The Outpost'". IndieWire. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
- Rubin, Rebecca (June 22, 2020). "'Hamilton' Movie Earns PG-13 Rating Despite Multiple F-Words". Variety. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
- Bjornson, Greta (June 22, 2020). "Lin-Manuel Miranda Explains How 'Hamilton' Will Be Censored on Disney+". Decider.com. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
- Lenker, Maureen (June 30, 2020). "'Hamilton original cast to reunite for behind-the-scenes doc to debut alongside filmed version". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- May 13; 2020. "More Details Revealed on Upcoming HAMILTON Release, including DVD and Blu-Ray Plans". Stream Broadway Shows & Musicals Online | Filmed on Stage. Retrieved July 7, 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- Jul 6; 2020. "Broadway's HAMILTON Expected To Be Released On DVD/Blu-Ray From Disney". Stream Broadway Shows & Musicals Online | Filmed on Stage. Retrieved July 7, 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
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- "Hamilton Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
- Debruge, Peter (June 30, 2020). "'Hamilton' on Disney Plus: Film Review". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- Chang, Justin (June 30, 2020). "Review: From Broadway to Disney+, 'Hamilton' speaks brilliantly to a time of fear and protest". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- Guzmán, Rafer (June 30, 2020). "'Hamilton' review: Your couch becomes front-row seat to the Broadway smash". Newsday. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- Ehlrich, David (June 30, 2020). "'Hamilton' Review: Disney+'s Faithful and Dynamic Recording of the Musical Phenomenon Will Leave Fans Satisfied". IndieWire. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- Rooney, David (June 30, 2020). "'Hamilton': Film Review". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- Scott, A.O. (June 30, 2020). "'Hamilton' Review: You Say You Want a Revolution". The New York Times. Retrieved June 30, 2020.