The Phantom is heading to New Orleans! In an exclusive for Deadline, Universal as required the John Fusco spec script titled Phantom that is based on the Gaston Leroux novel The Phantom of the Opera but set in contemporary New Orleans. The French-Quarter set film also includes producers Harvey Mason Jr of Harvey Mason Media, and John Legend with his Get Lifted Film Co partner, Mike Jackson.
Whatever it is about the man who thrives in the darkness, there is something about The Phantom of the Opera that keeps us all coming back to it and with it being in the public domain, we can get new and fun takes on the novel like this one from Fusco. The Leroux novel has become a hit musical from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber of the same name and has been running on Broadway since the 80s. But there’s something interesting and new (outside of the modern setting) in Fusco‘s vision.
Fusco‘s inspiration came from working on the film The Highwaymen where he became reacquainted with the French Quarter. “I was in New Orleans with Costner, Woody and John Lee Hancock and found myself reconnecting with my old musical haunts, and the next generation of my music cronies,” he told Deadline. “I began playing with them again, writing music and recorded two albums and during the pandemic I reflected on that journey and wanted to bring the screenwriting together with the songwriting and that music with a full out movie musical.”
He went in to talk about the setting for his version of Phantom and how it plays into the story.
“This is set it in the sultry nightlife scene of modern day New Orleans, the world of jazz, R&B, neo-Soul, and funk. 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.”
Phantom is a story we know but through a new lens and seems like a fascinating take on the world that Leroux started.