John Legend and Universal Take on a Modern New Orleans-Style ‘Phantom of the Opera’

The Phantom of The Opera is Here…again. Only this time, it takes place in modern New Orleans. Furthermore, All of Me singer John Legend is producing. Here’s everything we know so far about the newest musical imagining of the classic Broadway tale. 

The ‘Phantom of the Opera’ setting moves from Paris to modern-day New Orleans

Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera
Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera | Bettmann / Contributor

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal picked up the script by John Fusco, the screenwriter behind Hidalgo (2004), Young Guns (1988), The Forbidden Kingdom (2008), and The Highwaymen (2019). He also notably wrote the non-Britney Spears version of Crossroads — the 1986 coming-of-age musical starring Ralph Macchio. 

Per THR, mega-talent John Legend plans to produce. Harvey Mason Jr. of 2006’s Dreamgirls, as well as Sing and the Pitch Perfect films, will produce alongside Legend. Mike Jackson of Get Lifted Film Co is also a producer. Finally, Ty Stiklorius is the project’s executive producer.

The new version, shortened to simply Phantom, takes audiences into the richly colorful culture of New Orleans. 

“I have long wanted to explore The Phantom of the Opera in a contemporary and new way and in a French Quarter setting,” writer Fusco explained in a statement. “New Orleans is not only known as America’s most haunted city, but the music, Creole culture, voodoo mystique and the pageantry of Mardi Gras, inspire a natural adaptation of the original Paris setting.” 

Universal already produced a 1925 version 

The Phantom of the Opera is already an important part of Universal’s rich film history. The studio produced a memorable 1925 version starring Lon Chaney. Many consider it a defining version of the terrifying tale. 

The original 1910 horror novel, written by Gaston Leroux, concerns a disfigured “phantom” who falls in love with a promising young singer while haunting the halls of the opera house. Moreover, his intentions become murderous as his obsession grows. 

Rupert Julian directed the haunting 1925 silent film.  Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, and Carla Laemmle also appeared, among others. Universal’s The Phantom of the Opera remains a renowned classic. Additionally, it is part of the studio’s pantheon of legendary monster movies. 

A Broadway musical adaptation by Andrew Lloyd Webber was wildly popular, with a subsequent 2004 film version starring Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, and Patrick Wilson. 

The new musical ‘Phantom of the Opera’ will likely feature jazz and R&B influences

According to Deadline, Fusco cited jazz and R&B influences in his work on the Phantom movie. 

“This is set in the sultry nightlife scene of modern-day New Orleans, the world of jazz, R&B, neo-Soul, and funk,” Fusco told the publication. “The French Quarter, where New Orleans is not only known as America’s most haunted city, but the music, French Creole culture, the voodoo mystique, masquerade pageantry of Mardi Gras, just lent itself to a natural adaptation of the Paris setting, and a story that has revenge, unrequited love and mystery.”

In short, there are plenty of Phantom of the Opera adaptations. But John Legend is now in production on a version that brings something new and fresh to the table, with a completely different setting. 

RELATED: Universal Monsters: Which Movie Launched Hollywood’s Very First Shared Universe?