What Rock Biopics Will We See Next?

Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman look set to usher in a rock biopic cinematic universe (possibly masterminded by Spike from Press Gang). This trend has been gathering pace since Straight Outta Compton did wonders for Universal’s back catalogue division. It’s ready to explode. After Rhapsody, streams of Queen’s music tripled. Expect the same result for Elton John, since Rocketman seems to be going down well. It’s a potential goldmine for record companies stuck trying to extract pennies from Spotify and baffled at how to monetise TikTok and its ilk.

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Rock star stories have a natural three act structure (1. The dream! I’m done with working in a factory, I’m gonna be star. 2. Success! Mmm, drugs. Oh dear, I’ve destroyed everything / My manager has fleeced me, I’m broke / I’m broke and I did all the drugs. 3. Redemption! I’ve given up the drugs and am now happy and pretty boring / I died but became an icon.) 

So who’s going to get the Rocketman treatment next? Boy George seems likely, which is great, although the TV version from a few years back will be hard to beat. There are numerous other contenders.

Dusty Springfield deserves the Cilla treatment (I once wrote the sleeve-notes to a Dusty boxed set so hello producers, I am happy to write this).

Marvin Gaye’s life has a narrative arc that would make for thrilling, emotional cinema. (And boy, is now the time for a new generation to be introduced to this.)

I also have a dream of writing a blank verse tragedy about the Bay City Rollers. Truly, there is a tale of hauntological woe.

Madonna, clearly, although the script that’s out there will seemingly never get made. I do worry about a version that’s given the official Madge stamp. Can’t be worse than this though, I suppose.

Also think the Jim Sullivan story would make a great Jarmusch-esque arthouse flick.

Of course, the really good story is the one about the people who made it all happen. Ahem.

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Christian Ward

I write books and screenplays. I have been twice long-listed by the BBC Writersroom. I work as a trend forecaster for innovations advisory Stylus. I speak about media, technology, culture and advertising, at events including SXSW, YMS and the Stylus Summit. I host a trends podcast called Future Thinking with Stylus.

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