Be More Chill — the up-and-coming sci-fi Broadway musical based on Ned Vizzini’s novel of the same name — is getting a film adaptation, according to a report from Deadline. Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps and Greg Berlanti’s Berlanti Productions have been tapped to make a movie version of the musical, although the deal is still early on, and no film studio has been chosen for distribution yet.
If you’re not familiar with Be More Chill, you’re likely not alone: the show first debuted to little fanfare as a regional production in 2015 that adapted Vizzini’s young adult novel about Jeremy Heere, an unpopular high school student who takes a pill containing a “SQUIP” (Super Quantum Unit Intel Processor, which manifests as a smooth-talking, advice-dispensing devil on Jeremy’s shoulder) in a bid to be more accepted at school.
In 2017, the show’s fandom on Tumblr was second only to ‘Hamilton’ in terms of activity
The show didn’t become a hit until several years after the production wrapped and the cast album went viral, amassing a huge audience. Since then, the Be More Chill soundtrack has been streamed over 150 million times; in 2017, the show’s fandom on Tumblr was second only to Hamilton in terms of activity. To this day, the show’s composer Joe Iconis still isn’t sure what caused the sudden boom in attention.
Driven by its unlikely social media and streaming success, the show debuted again in NYC for a limited Off-Broadway run earlier this summer; the shows completely sold out before a single performance had gone up. That production is now scheduled to move to Broadway in February, where it’ll have to prove itself on its biggest stages yet.
The show has faced some fairly harsh reviews from theater critics like The New York Times (Ben Brantley calls it “exhaustingly enthusiastic”), but the main audience of the show — mostly internet-savvy teenagers — seem completely undeterred. The fact that a movie deal has materialized so swiftly is evident of both the demand (Tumblr, Spotify, and YouTube extend far beyond the reach of Broadway) and the viral nature of the show. It’s prime flash-in-the-pan fodder, so whether it’s successful or not will depend on swift action while it’s still in the limelight.