‘Precious’ Director Lee Daniels May Finally Bring ‘Miss Saigon’ To The Big Screen

I may be the negative Nelly of this blog, but I always worry when a breakout indie filmmaker is tapped to follow up his/her critically acclaimed Sundance sensation with a proportionately epic Hollywood production. So I’ve been somewhat concerned with the rumors that Lee Daniels, hot right now for his multi-film festival-winner (and Oscar hopeful) “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire,” may helm a long-awaited film version of the hit Broadway musical “Miss Saigon.”

Daniels has been linked to the adaptation for awhile, but now Variety is officially reporting that he’s the top choice to direct the Vietnam War-set musical. Apparently this is just one of multiple projects he’s considering, however.

What is certain, and pretty exciting, is that “Miss Saigon” is finally making its way to the big screen thanks to producers Paula Wagner (“The Last Samurai”) and Cameron Mackintosh. The latter produced the stage version of the long-running show and he’s currently working on his first movie production, the “My Fair Lady” remake.

I’m looking forward to a “Miss Saigon” movie because I never got to see the musical live. Famous for recreating the 1975 fall of Saigon, right down to having an actual helicopter lift off on stage during the U.S. evacuation of Vietnam, “Miss Saigon” is basically a remake of the tragic Puccini opera “Madame Butterfly,” with an American soldier falling in love with a Vietnamese girl shortly before the U.S. pull-out of the war.

The adaptation will have to be huge, mainly because the stage version was such a technical achievement (that helicopter bit was a very big deal), and maybe Daniels does have it in him to handle such a large-scale movie. But we mustn’t forget that prior to “Precious,” Daniels made a messy attempt at more action-oriented fare with his 2005 debut, “Shadowboxer.”

Who might be more fitting for the gig? Maybe if I could imagine Oliver Stone doing a big musical (“The Doors” doesn’t count), it’d be nice to see him do yet another Vietnam movie. Or, what about Adam Shankman, who seems interested in making a musical that’s more accessible to “dudes.” If the war movie elements are played up, “Miss Saigon” could very well be a guy-friendly musical movie.

One more thing: since this movie will be produced by Wagner, I’d just like to ask that her longtime producing partner, Tom Cruise, must not be cast as the soldier. Please.

Do you think Lee Daniels has what it takes to bring “Miss Saigon” to the stage? Is there a better choice of director for this adaptation?