If you went for a walk down Columbus Avenue last week, you may have noticed an odd anomaly on the corner of 77th Street in the form of a Christmas tree lot – 3 months out of season (or perhaps 9 months early).
And as if a yuletide gathering in the middle of March Madness wasn’t odd enough, this specific tree stand featured something you’re not likely to find even during the holiday season. Because poking out between the trees was a magical genie, or at least, actress Melissa McCarthy dressed as one.
This is because the Upper West Side has served as one of the filming locations for a new project starring McCarthy, along with I May Destroy You’s Paapa Essiedu. The film, which you may have guessed is a Christmas movie, was written by Richard Curtis (of Love Actually fame) and is being directed by Sam Boyd. Set to premier on Peacock, the movie tells the story of a workaholic who enlists the help of a genie to save his family over the holiday season.
While production permits for filming only name an “Untitled NY Christmas Project,” the producers’ chairs on-site at 77th read “Bernard and the Genie,” a name which may sound a little familiar if you grew up watching the BBC. That’s because the movie being filmed is a remake of a 1991 Christmas classic starring Rowan Atkinson and Alan Cumming, amongst others. Discussions of a remake have stretched back as far as 2001, when David Lindsay-Abaire was set to adapt the script. After decades of on again off again planning, it seems like 2023 is the Genie’s year. And Curtis, who has written the script, also wrote the 1991 original!
Will this 30-year remake become another holiday classic? Perhaps. Then again, when I walked past the filming location last week, a woman turned to me and asked, “Who needs another Christmas movie?” We may have to wait until the holiday season to learn more!