Get in tune with these 18 upcoming music biopics
Riverdale star K.J. Apa stars as real-life Christian musician Jeremy Camp in the upcoming spiritual romance film I Still Believe. The film follows his whirlwind relationship with Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp (played by Britt Robertson) as they marry while she battles ovarian cancer. I Still Believe hits theaters March 13.
Say hello to your new Elvis — Austin Butler will play the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the upcoming biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann. Covering Elvis Presley’s rise to fame from broke, aspiring singer to worldwide superstar, the story will be told through the lens of his complicated relationship with his manager for more than 20 years, Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks in the upcoming flick). Production begins in early 2020 in Queensland, Australia.
From A Star Is Born to Leonard Bernstein, Bradley Cooper is staying in the music genre for his next big movie project. He will direct and star in Paramount’s Leonard Bernstein biopic about the conductor and composer behind the music of The West Side Story, Peter Pan, and more. Cooper will also co-write the film with Josh Singer (Spotlight). Cooper, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese are among the producers. And another Bernstein biopic is also in the works: The American starring Jake Gyllenhaal from True Detective director Cary Fukunaga.
Put some R-E-S-P-E-C-T on her name, because Aretha Franklin is getting not one but two biopics this year. The first is the film Respect starring Jennifer Hudson (in theaters Oct. 9) as the iconic singer. Directed by Liesl Tommy, the biopic follows Franklin's life from a child singing in her father's church choir to achieving international superstardom. And before her death in August 2018, Franklin had hand-picked Hudson to portray her onscreen.
But Cynthia Erivo is also trying her hand at portraying the iconic singer for National Geographic's Genius: Aretha, the third season in the anthology series (premiering in May), following Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein and Antonio Banderas as Pablo Picasso. The eight-part limited series is "the first-ever, definitive, and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of Aretha Franklin," according to National Geographic, as the season explores the singer’s life and musical genius as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world.
Boy George is yet another musical icon to get the Hollywood treatment, with MGM producing the biopic and Anvil: The Story of Anvil director Sacha Gervasi writing and directing. The as-yet-untitled project will follow the singer (born George Alan O'Dowd) from his early years in England as part of a working class Irish family until his rise up the pop charts as part of the group Culture Club in the 1980s. Even Sophie Turner has said she'd like the part.
Lucy Boynton is trading one music biopic for another. After costarring in Bohemian Rhapsody, the British actor is set to play singer Marianne Faithfull in (and executive produce) Faithfull, directed by Ian Bonhôte, with production beginning fall 2020. Set in mid-1960s London, the movie will chronicle the highs and lows of Faithfull’s career after being discovered as a convent schoolgirl at 17, becoming a pop idol, her tumultuous romance with Mick Jagger that inspired some of their greatest songs, and being a homeless drug addict in Soho. "I am delighted that my story is finally being made with my dream team of Lucy, Julia and Ian," Faithfull said.
It should come as no surprise that Michael Jackson is finally getting the biopic treatment. Graham King, who produced the Oscar-winning Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, has acquired the rights to make a film based on the life of Jackson and he has also acquired access to use all of Jackson’s music. No studio is involved yet, but King has brought on screenwriter John Logan (the two previously collaborated on Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator). No more information has been revealed at this time.
Six-time Grammy nominee Tyrese Gibson is taking on the life of R&B icon Teddy Pendergrass in a biopic written by Little Marvin with Donald De Line (Ready Player One), Lee Daniels (The Butler, TV’s Empire), and Gibson producing. Pendergrass’ widow, Joan Pendergrass, is on board as an executive producer. "I am honored to take this journey... This is the role that I feel I was born to play,” Gibson said. “Teddy Pendergrass embraced me and before he passed, put the responsibility on my shoulders to tell his story. Being here in this time and in this space and moment with Lee Daniels, Donald De Line, Little Marvin, and Warner Bros. is an answered prayer. Teddy, I just hope we make you, your wife and family proud... Here we go!” A release date has yet to be announced.
King is a busy man — he's also developing a biopic about the Bee Gees along with Steven Spielberg. The currently-untitled film about the legendary pop group doesn't have a script yet but will likely follow the English-Australian group's rise to fame after their humble beginnings in 1958, with the trio of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb going on to garner global fame after working on the soundtrack for the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, penning iconic tunes like "Stayin' Alive," "Night Fever," and "More Than a Woman." Paramount and King purchased the life rights to the Gibb family estate, and thus will be able to use the group’s biggest hits in the movie. Barry is the sole surviving member of the group, as Maurice and Robin died in 2003 and 2012.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Back in 2018, it was reported that the rights to an untitled drama about John Lennon and Yoko Ono's epic love story was in negotiations with Universal Pictures. Jean-Marc Vallée was attached to direct and edit. The script was written by Bohemian Rhapsody scribe Anthony McCarten and Ono herself was attached to produce. But since then there has been no other news about the biopic.
Amy Winehouse's family announced back in 2018 that the iconic singer was getting a big screen biopic, with proceeds from the film reportedly benefitting the Amy Winehouse Foundation. The Winehouse family will serve as executive producers. "We now feel able to celebrate Amy's extraordinary life and talent," the singer’s father Mitch Winehouse said. "And we know through the Amy Winehouse Foundation that the true story of her illness can help so many others who might be experiencing similar issues."
Based on his The Autobiography of Gucci Mane, Gucci Mane (real name: Radric Delantic Davis) is getting a biopic from Paramount Players and Imagine Entertainment. Imagine's Brian Grazer and Erica Huggins will produce with Mane and Todd Moskowitz executive producing the film about the trap house trailblazer who started his career by releasing mixtapes while in prison.
Legendary singer David Bowie is also getting the movie treatment with the upcoming film Stardust. English actor and singer Johnny Flynn (Lovesick, Beast) will star as Bowie with Paul Van Carter producing, Gabriel Range directing, and written by Christopher Bell. But when Bowie’s son Duncan Jones expressed his feelings about the project, he shared that the movie doesn't not have the family's support, nor any of his father's music. And in a statement given to EW, the producers of Stardust said, "We would like to clarify that this film is not a biopic, it is a moment in time film at a turning point in David’s life, and is not reliant on Bowie’s music. Our original press release did state this. Much like Nowhere Boy for [John] Lennon, Control for Joy Division, the production uses period music and songs that Bowie covered, but not his original tracks. The film was written as an 'origins story' about the beginning of David's journey as he invented his Ziggy Stardust character, and focuses on the character study of the artist, as opposed to a hits driven 'music’ biopic.'"
Not technically a biopic, The Power of Love (which is a working title) is labeled as an homage to the life of Canadian singer Celine Dion. Currently in the works from French studio Gaumont, the movie will be based on details of Dion's life and use many of her songs. Slated for a 2020 release, the movie is directed by and starring Valerie Lemercier. She's playing Aline, a character inspired by Dion who grows up in a large Canadian family, is discovered as a major talent in her teens, becomes a global sensation and experiences the tragedy of losing her husband.
When a Madonna biopic script titled Blonde Ambition started picking up steam, the iconic singer immediately criticized it. "Nobody knows what I know and what I have seen. Only I can tell my story. Anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool," she wrote in a caption on Instagram. But Universal won an auction for the screenplay by Elyse Hollander which led the 2016 Black List, the annual ranking of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. The movie follows Madonna's early career in the 1980s in New York City during the release of her first album.