Broadway stage musicals-turned-movies were all the rage in the wake of Chicago‘s critical and financial success back in the early-2000s, what with The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, and The Producers all hitting theaters within a year of one another. Fast forward to 2011 and we’ve got more on the horizon – including (it seems) an American Idiot movie.
The tunes of punk rock group Green Day provide the basis for American Idiot, which looks to be scripted by Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black – the fellow behind Milk and the upcoming biopic J. Edgar.
Deadline says Universal is negotiating to turn American Idiot into a feature-length film, with the original stage musical’s director, Michael Mayer, at the helm. Tom Hanks and his Playtone partner Gary Goetzman optioned the show last year, so a cinematic adaptation of disenfranchised youth Jimmy’s musical coming-of-age tale has been in the cards for a while now.
Green Day singer and songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong occasionally played the drug-dealing St. Jimmy in the original American Idiot stage show – and the subsequent ticket sales very much reflected his involvement (or lack thereof). Needless to say, he is expected to be pursued to reprise that role in the film version as well.
Hanks and Goetzman were previously involved with turning the ABBA-inspired Broadway musical Mamma Mia! into a movie and the results were certainly profitable ($610 million worldwide at the box office). So can a musical that features songs like “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” be just as successful – financially, that is?
Rock musicals are a tricky proposition in general; they offer more appeal to moviegoers that aren’t usually inclined to watch a musical, but that doesn’t always (or often) result in greater success at the box office. To cite some more recent examples: Rent certainly didn’t fare that well in theaters, and Repo! The Genetic Opera has only attained limited cult status.
American Idiot is a different case since Green Day still has a strong following, and fans who were never able to see the original show on Broadway might turn out to see it recreated on the big screen. With a talented screenwriter like Black scripting the movie, it might even turn out to be good.
If Hollywood really hopes the Green Day musical could become the next Mamma Mia!… well, let’s just say I highly doubt it. That latter pic didn’t become a monster just because it featured ABBA music; it was based on a long-running and popular Broadway show, featured several big names, and was designed as (for lack of a better term) the ultimate chick flick. American Idiot is an entirely different animal.
Are you interested in seeing an American Idiot movie?