Welcome to the new era of Greatest Hits Cinema. After the wild success of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody—which grossed $903 million worldwide and picked up four Oscars—Hollywood, it seems, has been quickly ramping up its dedication to music-themed movies, from straightforward biopics to more experimental narratives inspired by the hit songs of popular artists (more along the lines of Mamma Mia!, another box-office juggernaut). With Rocketman, the Elton John biopic, poised to hit theaters this Friday, perhaps now is as good a time as any to take stock of the other, similar projects on the way.
Heres the newest one of the bunch. On Wednesday, Deadline reported that a Boy George biopic is on the way, written and directed by Sacha Gervasi (My Dinner With Herve). The film will be a biopic in the classic sense, tracing the singers early life up through his breakout success with band Culture Club. MGM will produce.
Speaking of, MGM will also produce a biopic about the late Aretha Franklin, starring Jennifer Hudson as the legendary soul singer. The film was officially announced back in January, with Hudson giddily writing, “I dont even know what to say…look at God !” in an emotional Instagram post. The project has floated around Hollywood since at least 2011, but its since been put on the fast track and will be produced by Scott Bernstein (Straight Outta Compton) and Harvey Mason Jr., a producer and songwriter whos worked with Franklin. Prime yourself for the upcoming movie with the Amazing Grace documentary, and this refresher on some of Franklins most legendary performances.
Heres another legendary diva getting the film treatment. Judy, set for a September 27 release, stars Renée Zellweger as the star of stage and screen. Though Garland was primarily a movie actress, Judy fits the bill here in part because the film revolves around her sold-out concert run in London in 1968. Zellweger also, per the films first trailer, is really singing in the biopic, which will feature Garlands best-known song, “Over the Rainbow.”
Céline Dion is also getting the cinematic treatment, though not in a straightforward biopic. In January, Variety reported that French studio Gaumont is working on The Power of Love, a $23 million musical heavily inspired by the Canadian singers life; it will also, naturally, feature many of Dions greatest hits. Valerie Lemercier will both direct and star in the biopic, playing “Aline,” a Canadian girl who becomes a global superstar and, later, suffers a tragic family loss. Its essentially a shadow biopic, dressing things up here and there with fiction.
Now its time to move away from the world of biopics and go straight into “Inspired by” territory. Blinded by the Light, directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham), is set in 1987 and revolves around Javed, a Pakistani-British teen whos obsessed with Bruce Springsteen. Hes so inspired by the Boss that he starts dressing like him, writing song lyrics, and even traveling to the U.S. to visit Springsteens hometown. The film, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and earned charmed reviews, is set for an August 14 release.
Imagine waking up in a world where the Beatles never existed. Thats the premise of Yesterday, Danny Boyles upcoming comedy about everyone forgetting the Fab Four—except one guy, Jack (Himesh Patel). He takes it upon himself to re-create the bands biggest songs, which in turn makes him a major pop star. Written by Richard Curtis (Love Actually), Yesterday also stars Lily James and Kate McKinnon, featuring a cameo by known cameo-lover Ed Sheeran. It will hit theaters on June 28.
Universal is applying the Mamma Mia! formula to the Purple One. Last December, it was reported that the studio is working on a movie inspired by the narratives in Prince songs. (Dont worry: It wont be a bungled attempt at a Purple Rain remake or anything like that.) The film, which does not yet have a title, will be executive produced by Troy Carter, the entertainment adviser of Princes estate, and Jody Gerson, the chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, which publishes Princes catalog. A director has not yet been attached. Also, this project is not to be confused with the Prince documentary Ava DuVernay is working on for Netflix, which has received the full blessing of the Prince estate.
Lets keep skirting into unconventional territory with Last Christmas, a holiday comedy inspired by the classic Wham! song of the same name. Directed by Paul Feig and cowritten by Emma Thompson (who also stars) and Bryony Kimmings, the film will star Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, and Patti Lupone, among others. It will hit theaters November 8.
Okay, perhaps we said we were done with biopics—but this one is on the more unusual side. Back in February, it was announced that Johnny Flynn (Lovesick) would play Bowie in Stardust, a biopic about the Thin White Duke directed by Gabriel Range. However, shortly after that, Bowies son, filmmaker Duncan Jones, announced that no one involved with the film had been granted music rights for any of the singers hits. So…itll be a music biopic without the music, along the lines of films like Velvet Goldmine, Todd Hayness glam-rock film that was threatened with a lawsuit by Bowie himself.
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