November 26, 2020

The Prom Netflix Movie News, Release Date, Cast, Spoilers

9 min read

The real Broadway may be closed indefinitely, but Netflix and Ryan Murphy are aiming to fill the void. The Prom, a Tony-nominated musical about four Broadway stars’ mission to help a high school girl bring her girlfriend to prom, is becoming a movie. Variety first reported in April 2019 that Ryan Murphy would adapt the musical as part of his reportedly $300 million deal with Netflix.

But after amassing a star-studded cast, including Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Kerry Washington, production paused with mere days left on the shooting schedule. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed in July that filming had resumed, making it one of the first productions to return amid pandemic safety concerns. Now, the high-profile project is scheduled to make a splash on December 11, 2020. And Streep calling the movie “everything we dream of in 2020” is all the endorsement we need.

Ahead, what we know about the upcoming release, including why Ariana Grande’s role had to be recast and a look at the first trailer.

The first trailer is a colorful ode to acceptance.

On October 22, Netflix dropped the first footage from The Prom, which sees the film’s star-studded cast sporting eccentric costumes, performing musical numbers, and traveling to the Midwest. A standout moment from the trailer? Streep’s Dee Dee Allen attempting to bribe a hotel clerk by showing off her two Tony Awards.

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The movie is based on a Tony-nominated musical.

The Prom was nominated for six Tonys in 2019. It tells the story of Emma, a queer high school student who wants to bring her girlfriend to senior prom. However, the Indiana school’s PTA bans her from doing so. This prompts struggling Broadway actors Barry Glickman and Dee Dee Allen, alongside their fellow performer friends Angie Dickinson and Trent Oliver, to step in. The foursome decides to launch a national campaign in Emma’s honor, even traveling to Indiana for some much-needed publicity.

With music and lyrics written by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, the movie’s screenplay will also be penned by book writers Beguelin and Bob Martin. Murphy will direct and produce, along with producers Alexis Woodall, Bill Damaschke, and Dori Berinstein.

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An official description of the plot, per Netflix, reads:

Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) are New York City stage stars with a crisis on their hands: their expensive new Broadway show is a major flop that has suddenly flatlined their careers. Meanwhile, in small-town Indiana, high school student Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) is experiencing a very different kind of heartbreak: despite the support of the high school principal (Keegan-Michael Key), the head of the PTA (Kerry Washington) has banned her from attending the prom with her girlfriend, Alyssa (Ariana DeBose). When Dee Dee and Barry decide that Emma’s predicament is the perfect cause to help resurrect their public images, they hit the road with Angie (Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells), another pair of cynical actors looking for a professional lift. But when their self-absorbed celebrity activism unexpectedly backfires, the foursome find their own lives upended as they rally to give Emma a night where she can truly celebrate who she is.

the prom

Corden, Kidman, Streep, and Key in The Prom.

MELINDA SUE GORDONNetflix

Murphy has spoken about his personal connection to the project.

Although Murphy has more than 10 projects in development, including Ratched, American Horror Story season 10, and Pose season 3, The Prom is especially personal for the producer. “I love the message of it. I really related to the protagonist,” Murphy told Collider about the movie. “Emma is from Indiana and is not allowed to go to her prom because she’s gay. And I’m from Indiana and I wasn’t allowed to take a man or a male compadre to my prom. I related to it, so I believed in the message.”

Murphy opened up to Variety about his unconventional prom experience. “I went with my best female friend, and as a protest I wore six-inch yellow platform boots as a tribute to Bananarama, so I got a little radical renegade-ness in,” he revealed. “But I was talking to the producer [Bill Damaschke] after the show, and I said, ‘I wish there had been something like this for me when I was that age so that I didn’t feel so alone.’”

the prom

DeBose and Pellman in The Prom.

MELINDA SUE GORDONNetflix

Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Kerry Washington lead the star-studded cast.

The cast of The Prom is filled with Oscar winners, Broadway headliners, and top comedians. Deadline confirmed the first round of buzzy casting in June 2019, reporting that Streep would play Dee Dee Allen, a two-time Tony-winning performer who teams up with her professional partner Barry Glickman (Corden) to spotlight Emma’s prom plight

“It was, without question, the most joyful time of my working life,” Corden said on the Variety podcast The Big Ticket with Marc Malkin. “Any day you get to go to work with Meryl Streep is the best day of your life. That’s just a fact.” Streep later told The Hollywood Reporter, “This is based on a real thing that happened to kids in Indiana, and has a happy ending, everything we dream of in 2020. I wanted to do it. So, the character is a big asshole. I tried very hard to bring that part of me forward.”

streep and corden in the prom

Streep and Corden in The Prom.

MELINDA SUE GORDONNetflix

Deadline also confirmed the casting of Nicole Kidman as Angie Dickinson and Andrew Rannells as Trent Oliver, the two actors who join Dee Dee and Barry in an effort to revive their own slagging careers. Kevin Chamberlin (Modern Family, Grace and Frankie) will play a publicist for the Broadway actors. (He replaced Awkwafina in the production for undisclosed reasons.) Keegan-Michael Key plays Principal Hawkins, who is a supporter of Emma and love interest for Dee Dee.

corden, kidman, rannells, and streep in the prom

Corden, Kidman, Rannells, and Streep in The Prom.

MELINDA SUE GORDONNetflix

In October 2019, Kerry Washington joined the cast in an unspecified role, per Deadline. Washington later confirmed on Variety’s Big Ticket podcast that she’d play the head of PTA and concerned mother of student Alyssa. Washington spoke about playing a conservative character for the first time to THR. “I know from being on the campaign trail in ’08, and ’12, and now, how many Black folks are seduced into voting conservative, because of their feelings about gay marriage,” she explained. “They’ll vote against their own best interests on all these other areas, because of these ideas. I also thought it was so exciting to, on the one hand, ask audiences to expand their idea of who they think conservatives are, but on the other hand also hold up a mirror to folks of color in this country to say, ‘How are you treating your own children? Do you have the courage to truly love your children unconditionally?’

debose and washington in the prom

DeBose and Washington in The Prom.

MELINDA SUE GORDONNetflix

Initially, Deadline reported that Ariana Grande would play Alyssa, a popular girl whose mother is head of the PTA. The outlet also claimed Murphy and Grande would produce the movie’s soundtrack alongside her manager, Scooter Braun. But by November, Grande was replaced by Broadway’s Ariana DeBose, who will also play Anita in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story.

pellman and debose in the prom

Pellman and DeBose in The Prom.

MELINDA SUE GORDONNetflix

That same month, Deadline reported Jo Ellen Pellman (The Deuce) had secured the role of Emma following a national search. The newcomer later told THR that she secured the role while working three jobs and living in New York City, following her graduation from the University of Michigan. “When I got the audition, I was over the moon,” she remembered. “I poured my whole heart into it, broke down all the beats. I also knew the odds. I got the call when I was in a thrift store in Bushwick [Brooklyn]. And here we are.”

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Other actors cast in supporting roles include Tracey Ullman, Mary Kay Place, Logan Riley, Nico Greetham, Sofia Deler, and Nathaniel J. Potvin.

Murphy shared an official first look at the ensemble on Instagram in late August. “Meet the incredible icon-packed cast of Netflix’s THE PROM. A group of true troopers who buckled up and finished shooting during COVID so we could give everybody an inspirational aspirational story that we all need right now.”

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There will be a new original song in the movie.

Broadway purists, fret not. During an interview with Collider, Murphy confirmed that all the musical’s original tracks will be in the movie. He also announced the addition of a new original song. “We used all the songs and then we’ve written one new song for it, one new original piece for The Prom,” Murphy revealed. “That was really fun to work on and it’s a great ballad, and it’s really a moving song about acceptance and prejudice. I think a lot of people will love it.”

As with any big screen adaptation, fans can expect some changes. Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter that the movie was about 25 percent different from the Broadway show, with a larger backstory devoted to Streep, Kidman, and Corden’s trio of roles and a “sympathetic grandma” character for Emma.

The Prom will hit Netflix in December.

The movie premieres right on schedule, despite filming stopping around March 12 with only a few days of production left. Murphy told Collider that Kidman, Streep, Corden, and Rannells had all completed filming prior to the shutdown. “The only thing that I had is I had two days of second unit pickup… I hope this summer I can go back and quickly pick them up,” he told the outlet, adding, “The movie was supposed to come out right around Christmas, was the plan. November, Thanksgiving, Christmas in that window. Hopefully, I’ll be able to still do that.”

On July 22, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that more than four months after filming originally halted, The Prom would resume production for four consecutive days at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. A source told the outlet, “Netflix is serious about the plan they put together and is using this as a test run fo their other productions.”

Washington revealed on the Variety podcast The Big Ticket that she was scheduled to work half a day more on the project. But after voicing safety concerns, rewrites excluded her from filming. “I was scheduled to film and we did multiple phone calls about it with my physician because I had childhood asthma and my parents are both 80 and live in our guest house. So I have to be really, really careful,” Washington explained. “But it just wound up that with rewrites, the scenes that I was going to complete, we didn’t need to do. I felt really good about the protocols, but it was going to be like literally a half a day, which I was like, ‘Do we really need that moment?'”

rannells, washington, streep, pellman, and corden in the prom

Rannells, Washington, Streep, Pellman, and Corden in The Prom.

MELINDA SUE GORDONNetflix

Murphy later confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that his crew developed “a COVID task force” with Netflix to ensure a safe completion to filming. “At some point, I was wearing a hazmat suit. I did feel like I was in Silkwood a couple of times,” he joked, adding, “It does test you. So we do shorter days, we make sure that there are lots of breaks for the crew, so they can take off the mask. You just find a way to do it. It’s important to move forward.”

The Prom will reportedly receive a theatrical release prior to its Netflix bow, with funds from screenings benefitting multiple charities, including those that support the Broadway community while theaters remain dark.

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