Oscar winner Octavia Spencer is in talks to join Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds in Spirited, Apple‘s new take on A Christmas Carol that will re-imagine the Charles Dickens tale as a musical.
The high-priority project hails from Daddy’s Home helmers Sean Anders and John Morris, who will direct from their own screenplay. Anders and Morris are also producing Spirited with Ferrell‘s Gloria Sanchez banner, Reynolds‘ company Maximum Effort, and Mosaic.
Sources say that Reynolds will play the Ebenezer Scrooge-like lead who is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Ferrell is expected to play Present, while Spencer is nearing a deal to play Reynolds‘ good-natured co-worker who helps Present teach the man kindness during the holiday season. The actress is also expected to do her own singing for the film. Apple had no comment.
Apple beat out Netflix, Paramount and Warner Bros. for the prized package, which calls for Reynolds and Ferrell to each make at least $30 million — more like $35 million for Reynolds — which includes their producing fees as well as their backend compensation. Factor in Anders and Morris‘ payday of $10 million to $15 million for creating the movie and overseeing its production, and the project’s talent fees are north of $75 million by my count, and that’s before production has even started.
Spirited marks a return to Apple TV+ for Spencer, who stars in the streamer’s mystery series Truth Be Told, which has been renewed for a second season. Spencer has really hit for the cycle when it comes to streaming services, however, having starred in the HBO Max movie The Witches, Amazon‘s upcoming sci-fi movie Invasion, and Netflix‘s Madam C.J. Walker series Self Made, as well as its forthcoming superhero movie Thunder Force with Melissa McCarthy. Heck, even Pixar‘s Onward, in which Spencer voices Corey the Manticore, debuted early on Disney+ following an abbreviated theatrical run.
Spencer won an Oscar for her supporting role in The Help, and was nominated two more times in that category for her work in Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water, the latter of which won Best Picture. She also served as an executive producer on another Best Picture winner, Green Book. Additionally, Spencer is developing several film and television projects under her Orit Entertainment banner, including a limited series for HBO about infamous cult leader Jim Jones. She’s also slated to reunite with Jessica Chastain for a holiday comedy that will be directed by Michael Showalter. Spencer is represented by WME.