In the Heights opens summer 2020

By Ale Russian
December 12, 2019 09:04 AM

In The Heights is finally hitting the big screen.

The first trailer for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s movie musical premiered on Thursday morning, and it’s already turning heads with its colorful introduction to the vibrant New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights.

The movie stars Anthony Ramos as Usnavi, a neighborhood bodega owner struggling as his block becomes more and more gentrified.

“It’s the story of a block that was disappearing,” Usnavi tells a few kids at the beginning of the trailer. “Un barrio called Washington Heights. The streets were made of music.”

While the trailer introduces the story, it also gives fans a glimpse of some of Miranda’s most celebrated songs, like the titular opening number Ramos raps throughout.

And even though Usnavi and his neighbors are struggling, they all band together and go for their dreams.

“I’ve been saving all the pennies in my piggy bank for this day,” a serious Usnavi tells Kevin Rosario. “A dream isn’t some sparkly diamond, there’s no shortcuts. Sometimes it’s rough.”

The hit Broadway musical was the Hamilton creator’s first smash hit, picking up 13 Tony nominations and winning four, including best musical, after it opened in 2008.

The world for minorities and Latinos looked different in 2008, with Barack Obama about to become the first president of color. But Miranda, director Jon M. Chu and screenplay writer Quiara Alegría Hudes, who also wrote the book for the musical, had to make some adjustments to the story in 2019. Now the characters grapple with the current immigration crisis and threats to the DREAM Act, which protects immigrant children.

“They’re talking about kicking out all the dreamers,” one young character says.

”It’s time to make some noise,” says another.

ANTHONY RAMOS as Usnavi and MELISSA BARRERA as Vanessa in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “IN THE HEIGHTS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
In the Heights
| Credit: Macall Polay

Back in August, Miranda, 39, spoke about the continued relevance of the musical’s story.

“There are things that were implicit then that are explicit now, like the way this wave of Latinx immigrants has to fight for their personhood,” he told Departures. “In this world we are more demonized than we have ever been.”

“This notion of, ‘We came from somewhere else and we’re trying to make the best of our lives here. We are just like you’—this, somehow, is a radical statement in 2019. It shouldn’t be,” he continued. “It didn’t feel that radical in 2008 [when In the Heights opened on Broadway], but it actually is, because there are so many who would say, ‘You don’t belong here. This country’s full.’ To see these characters joyously waving the flags of their home countries in New York City, it’s crazy that that’s a radical act. But it’s wonderful to put that on screen.”

In the Heights opens in theaters in summer 2020.