Hugh Jackman’s The Greatest Showman, a musical about the life of famed circus director P.T. Barnum, had a tough time getting off the ground. Before La La Land, if you can believe there was such a time, studios looked askance at any who suggested a rebirth of the Hollywood musical. But Jackman and director Michael Gracey were not to be deterred, working like mad to get their circus musical off the ground, and it paid off. The Greatest Showman will hit theaters this December, and the first images hit the Internet today.

Jackman and Gracey spoke to Entertainment Weekly, who debuted the gorgeous images of Jackman in costume as P.T. Barnum. Jackman spoke to the film’s whopping seven years of development and production, saying it wasn’t easy to get it made.

Up until La La Land, everyone was saying there hasn’t been an original musical in 23 years. So the prevailing thought in Hollywood was, unless you have a brand people know, it’s not a done thing. So it just took a long time.

The film also stars Zendaya as a trapeze artist and Zac Efron as Barnum’s business partner who falls in love with her. According to Jackman, in the time in which the movie is set — the mid-1800s — the circus was looped upon as a nefarious, “dark alley strip show kind of thing.” But the images of Barnum’s vision, visualized in grand opulence in The Greatest Showman, show a different kind of entertainment. Take a look:

The film was actually more of a straight-up biopic to begin with, but since it’s about a circus director, THE circus director, and Hugh Jackman is starring as him, Gracey suggested they add some songs.

I said, ‘If you’re going to call it The Greatest Showman, you should play to your strengths and we should make it a musical. That ridiculous remark cost me seven years of my life.

The songs are written by La La Land’s Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and sound more like contemporary music. Jackman says this is intentional.

We were clear from the beginning that this wouldn’t feel like a period movie or a historical piece. What would Barnum do now? I have an almost-12-year-old daughter. I wanted [the movie] to be as exciting for her as listening to Katy Perry’s new song.

Sounds kinda like what Baz Luhrmann did with The Great Gatsby’s soundtrack, and the images definitely give off a Moulin Rouge feel. While the film world mostly knows Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and that guy who isn’t Christian Bale in The Prestige, he’s an incredibly accomplished musical talent, and it’s about time he had a vehicle where he can really let it all loose.

The Greatest Showman hits theaters December 25.

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