- For the Dinosaurs episode, see Episode 413: Into the Woods.
The script was written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who were known at the time for their hit movie City Slickers. Sondheim and librettist James Lapine were signed as consultants on the film.
Fansite Sondheim.com described the content of a 1994 draft of the script:
“The story basically follows that of the show's first act, although the story unfolds in a different manner, without a narrator or a Mysterious Man.
Several confusions of the play have been fixed. For example, Rapunzel is no longer related to the Baker, nor does she give birth to twins, so the question of why the family curse didn't affect her has been erased.
At the end of the first 'act', the Giant rises from his fall and goes on a rampage, allowing the rest of the story to unfold more-or-less as it did in Act II of the play. The intricate back stories of the Baker's father and the witch's mother have been deleted, eliminating "No More" and changing a bit of "Last Midnight." There is no 'second bean', so the Baker's wife's scenes with Cinderella are fairly different. Finally, at the very end of the movie the wife reappears, having tricked the Giant into thinking she was dead.
Strangely, there has been no effort to integrate "Children Will Listen" into the action. Rather, the camera just switches to a shot of the witch singing the song against a backdrop of Rapunzel's tower, followed by a montage of the survivors going about their lives after the giant. Although there will certainly be more work done on the script before it becomes a film, what we've seen is certainly promising, and will definitely be entertaining, even if it's not the Into the Woods we all know and love.”
Penny Marshall was attached to the project as a director in 1994. In October, she held an all-star reading of the script in her home, featuring Robin Williams as the Baker, Goldie Hawn as the Baker's Wife, Cher as the Witch, Steve Martin as the Wolf and Danny DeVito as the Giant, along with Elijah Wood, Roseanne Barr, Bebe Neuwirth, Mayim Bialik, Brendan Fraser, Moira Kelly, Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Jeter.
When Jim Henson Productions made a deal with Sony Pictures to create Jim Henson Pictures in 1995, Into the Woods became a Jim Henson Pictures project, and Brian Henson was announced as the film's executive producer.
Late in 1995, Rob Minkoff (one of the directors of The Lion King) was signed to direct. It was announced that shooting would begin in late summer 1996, with four to six new songs written for the movie by Sondheim.
Although the Henson company film was never made, it was announced in 2012 that The Walt Disney Company had optioned the property with Rob Marshall set to direct, with no ties to the Creature Shop or Jim Henson Pictures. The film was released in 2014.
Several actors in stage versions and the 2014 film adaptation have Muppet/Henson connections.
- John Beal played bass in the original Broadway run and the 2002 revival
- Simon Russell Beale plays the baker's father in the 2014 film adaptation
- Emily Blunt plays the baker's wife in the 2014 film adaptation
- Dick Cavett played the narrator, as a replacement, in the original Broadway run
- James Corden plays the baker in the 2014 film adaptation
- Johnny Depp plays the wolf in the 2014 film adaptation
- Anna Kendrick plays Cinderella in the 2014 film adaptation
- Rob Marshall directed the 2014 film adaptation
- Bernadette Peters originated the role of the witch on Broadway
- Meryl Streep plays the witch in the 2014 film adaptation
- Tracey Ullman plays Jack's mother in the 2014 film adaptation
- Robert Westenberg originated the roles of the wolf and Cinderella's prince on Broadway
- Vanessa Williams played the witch in the 2002 Broadway revival