Sony to Release ‘Annie’ on Christmas Day 2014

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" star Quvenzhane Wallis will play "Annie"

Sony will release “Annie,” a new movie based on the iconic play, on Christmas Day of 2014, the studio announced on Wednesday.

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Quvenzhane Wallis, fresh off an Oscar nomination for her performance in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” will star as young orphan who wins the heart of everyone around her. Willow Smith, the daughter of "Annie" producers Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, had been set to play that role, but opted out of the project.

Smith's Overbrook Entertainment is producing the film with Jay-Z's Marcy Media, while Will Gluck, who made "Easy A" and "Friends with Benefits" for Sony's ScreenGems imprint, will direct.

The story of "Annie" stems from Harold Gray's comic strip "Little Orphan Annie," which first appeared in 1927. Thomas Meehan, Martin Charnin ad Charles Strouse then adapted that into a Tony-winning Broadway show, featuring now legendary songs like "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard-Knock Life." Jay-Z rapped his own version of the latter.

There have been various Broadway revivals, including a production now up on Broadway, as well as film adaptations. Will Smith announced his plans for a new spin on the tale in 2011.

Though still almost two years away, the holiday schedule for 2014 is starting to fill up with sequels and spin-offs. "Night at the Museum 3," "Minions," an offshoot of the "Despicable Me" franchise, and the next "Avatar" are all tentatively slated for December of that year. Also set to open is "Tomorrowland," Disney's top secret project from "The Incredibles" director Brad Bird and "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof.

Almost all of those movies, two distributed by Fox, one by Universal, one by Disney and now one by Sony, will target a young audience.