The business of biopics is booming. It seems like every day, there's more news of a beloved entertainer, respected historical figure, or long-forgotten criminal that's getting a movie made about their life story. As soon as a film based on a person's life is announced, we eagerly await more news of which famous actor will play them.
After the success of films like Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman, Respect, and Judy, music biopics in particular have been all the rage. Not only are they able to tell compelling stories, but audiences are entertained thanks to the musician's catalogue of songs on full display. And if you're an artist who's still living, having a biopic made about your early career is a pretty great marketing tool!
Live365 is committed to delivering you the hottest music news around. As such, we've been keeping our eyes on the development of several music biopics slated for release sometime in the next few years. Today, we'd like to share with you some of the biopics that intrigue us the most, and make us very excited to watch an artist's life story in movie theaters. Without further ado, here are 15 upcoming music biopics you need to know about!
1. Bob Marley
In very recent news, it was announced that Kingsley Ben-Adir (Peaky Blinders, The OA, One Night in Miami) would take on the role of Bob Marley in a Paramount Pictures biopic about the reggae legend's life. King Richard's Reinaldo Marcus Green is set to direct, Zach Baylin is assisting with the script, and members of the Marley family are producing the project.
It's about time a film about Bob Marley's life was made! The story will be covering an intense period in the Rastafarian man's life: his later years making Exodus in London just after a failed assassination attempt in Jamaica. We're hoping to sing along to songs like "Buffalo Soldier," "Could You Be Loved," and "Jammin'." We already know every little thing is gonna be alright with this biopic!
Back in May 2021, Cher revealed on Twitter a biopic about her life was in the works. Eric Roth, whose screenplays include Forrest Gump and A Star Is Born, will write the script while Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman, whose credits include both Mamma Mia! films, will produce.
“Gary and I are thrilled to be working with Cher again and this time bringing her empowering and true-life odyssey to the big screen,” Craymer said in a press release. “One cannot help but be drawn to and inspired by Cher’s larger than life talent, fortitude, unique wit, warmth and vision. Her unparalleled success in music, film and TV has inspired generations. We could not be happier to tell her story to cinema audiences.”
Not much is known about the picture, save for the fact Universal Pictures will distribute the film and Deadline noted it “will not be a break-into-song musical like Mamma Mia! and probably more likely a closer cousin to a biopic like Bohemian Rhapsody.” Not only are we excited to listen to Cher music in a movie theater, we also can't wait to see the lead actress in Cher's iconic costumes!
3. "Weird Al" Yankovic
Just like the artist himself, the "Weird Al" Yankovic biopic is expected to be kooky, unconventional, and absolutely hilarious. Yankovic is writing and producing Weird: The "Weird Al" Yankovic Story while Eric Appel will direct with Daniel Radcliffe playing Yankovic. It's all being made as an original movie for the up-and-coming Roku Channel.
Due to the creators' wacky press statements and Appel's previous Yankovic biopic parody for Funny or Die, we theorize this historical film is one that won't take itself too seriously. In the spirit of "Weird Al," we're hoping this movie parodies the tropes present within current biopics and tackles the oversaturated genre in a funny new way.
4. The Bee Gees
Following the success of the HBO documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, a full-fledged biopic on the Bee Gees has begun. The film will tell the story of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb and their ascent to becoming one of the most recognizable acts of the 1970s.
So far, Kenneth Branagh is tied to the director's chair and Bradley Cooper will play Barry Gibb. After seeing Cooper in Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza, we know he'll fit right in with a 70s aesthetic! In fact, some news outlets claimed he looked like the spitting image of Gibb while playing hairdresser Jon Peters in the Oscar-nominated feature.
5. Leonard Bernstein
Playing Barry Gibb isn't the only biopic role Cooper has in store. He'll also be playing American composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein in an upcoming Netflix film titled Maestro.
The feature is set to start shooting this May, with Carey Mulligan acting as Bernstein's wife, Felicia Montealegre. Cooper wrote the script with Josh Singer, who shared the Best Original Screenplay Oscar with Tom McCarthy for Spotlight. Cooper is producing alongside Fred Berner, Amy Durning, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese.
Cooper will even sit in the director's chair, too: Spielberg was originally set to direct the movie, but Cooper convinced him to let go of the role. In an Actors on Actors interview, he revealed he asked Spielberg, "I always felt like I could play a conductor, but may I research the material and see if I can write it and direct it? Would you let me do that?" After watching Cooper's fantastic directorial debut A Star Is Born, we're sure Spielberg was eager to let him have the responsibility.
6. Elvis Presley
The King of Rock 'n' Roll will soon be the King of the Box Office. Famed director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, The Great Gatsby) is helming a biopic on Elvis Presley, with young star Austin Butler in the lead role. Tom Hanks will play Elvis’ longtime manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
Elvis will chronicle Presley's rise from humble beginnings to one of the biggest stars in music history. The movie is due for release on June 24, 2022 via Warner Bros. Pictures.
7. Michael Jackson
Not only is the King of Rock 'n' Roll getting the biopic treatment, so is the King of Pop.
Lionsgate will distribute a new Michael Jackson biopic produced by Bohemian Rhapsody’s Graham King. The film is also being made with the cooperation of the Michael Jackson Estate - which may impact how it deals with the multiple allegations of child sexual abuse that were brought against Jackson during the course of his career and after his 2009 death. Will it shy away from the controversy, or be unafraid to dive deeper into it?
Titled Michael, a screenplay is being written by three-time Oscar nominee John Logan. King and Logan previously collaborated on Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator.
8. Boy George
Back in April 2021, Boy George announced his biopic Karma Chameleon was set to start shooting across London and Bulgaria in the summertime. Additionally, a casting call went underway to look for the actor who would play George.
While we're not sure of the film's current status, we do know several details about the biopic. It will chronicle George's Culture Club success in the 80s while unflinchingly showing his struggles with substance abuse. Additionally, Danny Mays (1917, Line of Duty) will play George's father, and Sacha Gervasi is set to direct. There are even rumors of Keanu Reeves popping up! (Although, we think that might just be a joke perpetuated by George.)
9. Louis Armstrong
Director Sacha Jenkins will tell Louis Armstrong's story with the upcoming biopic Black & Blues: The Colorful Ballad of Louis Armstrong. The film will be released via Apple TV+ and comedian Tracy Morgan will play the famous trumpeter.
The biopic is actually self-financed by Morgan and has been a passion project of his for awhile. We're sure he'll nail it!
10. Whitney Houston
Being one of the best-selling artists of all time, it's inevitable a Whitney Houston biopic is getting made. Titled I Wanna Dance with Somebody after her famous 1987 hit, the movie is set for a Christmas 2022 release.
Sony is distributing the film while British actress Naomie Ackie (Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker, The End of the F---ing World) will play the iconic singer. "We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston," director Stella Meghie said, per The Hollywood Reporter. "Naomi Ackie impressed us at every stage of the process. I was moved by her ability to capture the stage presence of a global icon while bringing humanity to her interior life."
Actor Ashton Sanders will play Bobby Brown, while Nafessa Williams, Clarke Peters, and Tamara Tunie will also play roles in the flick.
11. Bob Dylan
If you're part of the Timothée Chalamet fan club, you've definitely heard about the Bob Dylan biopic he's spent months preparing for. Going Electric will star Chalamet as the iconic 60s artist with direction by James Mangold.
As NME reported back in October, the film was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic and struggles with finding period-specific costumes and locations. However, cinematographer Phedon Papamichael has said the film is "not dead yet." We're hoping it will get made soon, since Chalamet has put a lot of hard work into getting ready for the character. Not only has he been learning guitar, but the actor rented out an Airbnb in Woodstock, NY and had a meeting with Joel Coen (director of Inside Llewyn Davis) just to get into the mindset of Dylan.
Will Chalamet's performance rival that of Cate Blanchett's in I'm Not There? That's what we're eager to see.
12. Amy Winehouse
The public will never stop loving Amy Winehouse. The British singer-songwriter perished way too soon, and it's fair to say we miss her expressive vocals and lovable sense of humor. That's why we're so happy to see a biopic being made about her short-yet-spectacular career.
The biopic was announced back in September 2021. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Halcyon Studios will produce the biopic after it optioned Daphne Barak’s 2010 book, Saving Amy. While no casting news has been announced yet (and mixed messaging has been reported about Mitch Winehouse's approval of the movie), we do know the film will take place during the final years of Winehouse's life.
13. Ronnie Spector
Many have learned about Ronnie Spector's life due to The Ronettes singer's recent death. As soon as she passed away, plans for a Ronnie Spector biopic were made more public. Production company A24 (Moonlight, Lady Bird, Hereditary) has secured Spector's life rights for the film, as well as the rights to the musician's autobiography, Be My Baby. Pulitzer-winning playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury is in consideration to write the script.
And who will be playing Spector? None other than Emmy Award-winning actress Zendaya! Spector personally selected the Euphoria actress for the role before her death. We think it's a perfect casting. Zendaya's got the singing/dancing skills and fashionista status that playing Spector would require!
During an appearance on SiriusXM in November 2020, Ann Wilson revealed a biopic about Heart was in the works.
"I saw the first draft of the script," the singer admitted. "It's really cool." Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney, who also co-created and starred in IFC's Portlandia, will write and direct the film. Additionally, Lynda Obst of Sleepless in Seattle and How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days is producing. The movie is expected to focus on Ann and her sister Nancy, their childhood, early years as aspiring musicians, and eventual success with their chart-topping rock band.
While casting hasn't been announced yet and apparently COVID-19 has delayed the production, we do know the film will draw heavily from Kicking and Dreaming: the book Ann and Nancy wrote together chronicling their rise to fame and ensuing success.
15. John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Last on our list, we're mentioning the project we've all been waiting for: a biopic chronicling John Lennon and Yoko Ono's famous love story.
All we know so far is that acclaimed director Jean-Marc Vallée is attached. We have so many questions. Who will play John and Yoko? Will the other members of the Beatles be cast? Will the film cover John's assassination by The Dakota? Will we get to hear an actress do Ono's iconic caterwauling? Until the movie gets made, we guess we'll bide our time by watching Lennon and Ono together in Peter Jackson's Get Back.
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Article Image: Bob Dylan singing and playing guitar in 1978, Whitney Houston singing in 1991, Elvis Presley promoting the film "Jailhouse Rock" in 1957. (Chris Hakkens, PH2 Mark Kettenhofen, and The Library of Congress [CC BY-SA 2.0 and Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.)