It’s official: Jay-Z and Will Smith are a big-screen tag team. The two entertainment titans will join forces to produce feature films with Sony Pictures Entertainment, the first of which will be a much-discussed Annie remake starring Smith’s daughter Willow in the title role.
Jay and Will’s relationship dates back over a year, when the two first discussed investing in a beauty company over dinner. They later co-produced last year’s Broadway musical Fela, which went on to be nominated for a total of 11 Tony Awards.
“The Overbrook Entertainment family and I have a unified vision,” Jay-Z said in a statement, discussing his partnership with Smith’s production company. “We’ve already produced a Tony Award-winning play, and we’re developing a true superstar in Willow. This venture into film development and production is a perfect next step with teams that are accomplished, creative and innovative.”
Hov’s relationship with Annie, of course, dates back to his 1998 smash single “Hard Knock Life,” which sampled the famous song of the same name from the musical. In his 2010 memoir Decoded, Jay talks about how the movie impacted him and his siblings, who related to its spirited but impoverished characters.
Willow Smith, meanwhile, is signed to Jay-Z’s record label Roc Nation and is currently prepping a solo debut on the back of her own platinum hit, “Whip My Hair.”
“The time is right to bring back Annie to the big screen,” said Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures (a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment). “Of course, we’re true believers in Willow’s talent and believe she will be perfect in this 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.'”
Assuming Willow’s Annie makes it to theaters as planned, it wouldn’t be the first time a younger Smith has starred in a remake of an ‘80s classic. Last summer Jaden Smith headlined a blockbuster reboot of The Karate Kid with Jackie Chan. That film was also produced by his father.
Image: fafotos/picturegroup Anthony Harvey/PictureGroup