Hollywood studios have several music biopic movies in development, and here are all the ones we know about. While musicals, music-themed movies, and music biopics are nothing new, it seems there's a new trend afoot, in which studios are starting to make music biopics a cornerstone of their yearly releases.
In 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody showcased Freddie Mercury and Queen, and it ended up grossing over $900 million at the worldwide box office. So while films like 8 Mile, Walk the Line, and Straight Outta Compton have dazzled audiences and critics in the past, there's been a big push into music biopics within the past year or two. Even the Elton John biopic/musical Rocketman became a box office hit in 2019, though that movie took a different approach to its subject.
Since high-profile music biopics make big money and lots of headlines, they're an ideal platform for up-and-coming stars as well as studios that want to diversify their lineup. Here's a complete list of music biopic movies that are either scheduled for release or currently in development.
Directed by Rupert Goold, Judy stars Renée Zellweger as the iconic singer and actress Judy Garland. Based on Peter Quilter’s book End of the Rainbow, the music biopic takes place in 1969 London. Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl), Rufus Sewell (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) have supporting roles. Judy will have a wide US release on September 27, and will come out on October 4 in the UK.
I Still Believe
Based on the hardships of Christian music singer Jeremy Camp, I Still Believe will star Riverdale actor K.J. Apa in the lead role. In 2000, Camp married Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp, who was subsequently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away the following year. Britt Robertson will portray Camp’s late wife, and music superstar Shania Twain will co-star as the musician’s mother, Terry. I Still Believe, written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn, is scheduled for a March 20, 2020 release.
Based on the life story of American soul singer Aretha Franklin, Respect will star Jennifer Hudson in the lead role. Liesl Tommy will direct the music biopic, which was written by Callie Khouri - the screenwriter of the ‘90s classic Thelma & Louise and the creator of the television series Nashville. Respect is currently in pre-production and is scheduled to release in theaters on August 14, 2020.
Blue Moon Of Kentucky
Callie Khouri will also co-write the screenplay for a music biopic about bluegrass musician Bill Monroe. In 1997, Monroe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for influencing the genre as the “Father of Bluegrass.” Blue Moon of Kentucky is currently in development, and is based on a screenplay co-written by Finn Taylor and Khouri. However, it doesn't yet have a cast or director attached.
Untitled Elvis Presley Film
Baz Luhrmann will write and direct a music biopic about The King of Rock, Elvis Presley. In July 2019, Austin Butler was cast as Elvis for the Warner Bros. film. Tom Hanks has also been cast as Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker. Luhrmann previously directed Moulin Rouge!, Australia, Romeo + Juliet, and The Great Gatsby, so he's coming into the Elvis biopic with considerable experience. Although an exact date hasn't been revealed, the Elvis biopic is scheduled to debut in 2021.
I Am Woman
Directed by Unjoo Moon, the music biopic I Am Woman follows the life of Australian musician and activist Helen Reddy, who released the feminist anthem “I Am Woman” in May 1972. Tilda Cobham-Hervey will star in the title role, with Evan Peters portraying her husband and manager, Jeff Wald. Danielle Macdonald (Bird Box) co-stars as music journalist Lilian Roxon. I Am Woman’s screenplay was written by Emma Jensen (Mary Shelley). A release date has not yet been set.
In May 2018, Bradley Cooper was announced as the star and director for Bernstein, a music biopic about composer Leonard Bernstein. The subject served as the music director for the New York Philharmonic, and also composed the scores for famous movies such as On the Waterfront and West Side Story. Bernstein marks Cooper's second feature film as director, following 2018's A Star Is Born. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese will co-produce Bernstein, with Carey Mulligan co-starring alongside Cooper. Bernstein doesn’t yet have a release date.
Sony is currently developing Douglas McGrath’s book Beautiful: The Carole King Musical into a feature film. Although no developments have been made since 2015, including for the cast and director, Tom Hanks is reportedly attached to co-produce alongside Gary Goetzman. Beautiful will focus on King’s life and career.
The Power of Love (Famous)
Valérie Lemercier, a French actress and singer, will star in and direct the life story of Céline Dion. Considering Dion's career, there will certainly be a lot to focus on in the film. Lemercier has previously directed five feature films, and wrote the screenplay for the Dion music biopic. The Power of Love (Famous) will co-star Carole Weyers and Sylvain Marcel. A release date has not yet been set.
Starring Johnny Flynn as David Bowie, the music biopic Stardust will focus on the late English rock star. Stardust will take place in 1971 as Bowie travels to America and evolves into his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Jena Malone co-stars as Angie Bowie and Marc Maron appears as a publicist. Bowie’s son Duncan Jones has previously stated that none of his father’s music rights have been granted for Stardust, which means that the film could be a straight-forward drama. Stardust doesn't have a release date yet.
Despite Madonna’s reported disapproval, a biopic about her life is reportedly in development at Universal. Written by Elyse Hollander, Blond Ambition will explore the early years of Madonna’s music career and the making of her first album, but little information about the project has been announced. In 2017, Madonna herself posted a message on Instagram, stating (via Variety) “Only I can tell my story. Anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool looking for instant gratification without doing the work. This is a disease in our society.” The post has since been removed.
Untitled Amy Winehouse Film
Producer Alison Owen will direct a music biopic about Amy Winehouse. In October 2018, Owen’s Monumental Pictures agreed to a deal with the late singer’s family. Winehouse tragically passed away at age 27 in 2011; this coming after she’d released two studio albums and won five Grammy Awards. The Winehouse music biopic will reportedly begin filming in 2019, but the cast has not been announced.
Untitled John Lennon And Yoko Ono Film
In 2018, Universal announced that Jean Marc Vallée would direct a music biopic about John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The project is reportedly still in active development, and it'll be based on a screenplay written by Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody). Vallée is best known for directing the HBO series Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects. He’s also directed feature films such as Dallas Buyers Club, Wild, and Demolition.
Untitled Bob Marley Film
In June 2018, Paramount announced that Ziggy Marley would produce a music biopic about his late father, the iconic reggae musician Bob Marley. The project is currently in development and still untitled. A director and cast have not been announced.
Untitled Boy George Film
MGM announced their plans for a Boy George biopic in May 2019. With Sacha Gervasi set to write and direct, the untitled Boy George film will explore the singer's early days in Ireland. Boy George aka George Alan O’Dowd formed the band Culture Club in 1981 and ultimately became a staple of ‘80s pop culture. From 1982 to 1986, Culture Club released four studio albums before disbanding. They later released an album in 1999 (Don’t Mind If I Do) and another, Life, in 2018. Boy George has released nine studio albums throughout his career.
Untitled Gucci Mane Film
Paramount announced a biopic about the hip-hop musician Gucci Mane in 2018. Based on The Autobiography of Gucci Mane, the film will follow Gucci Mane's upbringing in the American South and how he innovated the trap music genre before spending three years in prison. Gucci Mane is currently 39 years old and released his 14th studio album, Delusions of Grandeur, in June 2019.
Untitled Teddy Pendergrass Film
In February 2019, Warner Bros. announced that Tyrese Gibson would star in a music biopic about R&B musician Teddy Pendergrass. The film will follow the singer's rise to fame during the ‘70s, which preceded a tragic 1982 car accident that left him paralyzed. Lee Daniels will co-produce with Gibson and Pendergrass’ widow, Joan. From 1977 to 1997, Pendergrass released 13 solo albums. He passed away in 2010 at age 59.