A director has finally been assigned to Rocket Pictures’ developing Elton John biopic Rocketman. Deadline reports that commercials director Michael Gracey has been tapped to take the helm of the film, which is being planned as a “radically different” kind of biopic. Billy Elliot scribe Lee Hall wrote the screenplay, and the film will be told in a non-linear, hyper-visual manner complete with choreographed sequences set to John’s classic songs. Gracey is a veteran of commercial directing, having helmed many musically-inclined spots including a Lipton ad with Hugh Jackman and Evian’s “dancing babies” spot.
There’s no word on who will play Sir Elton himself, but a search is currently underway to cast the child version of the singer. Gracey is also attached to direct a couple of other feature films including The Greatest Showman on Earth with Jackman set to star, and the Jim Henson biopic The Muppet Man. Hit the jump to sample some of Gracey’s commercials work.
Over 70 different actors have portrayed Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes character over the years, so while reinventing Sherlock is not a new game, it’s recently become an extremely popular one, with both the BBC’s revival of the series as well as the upcoming CBS show Elementary. Now Disney is cashing in on the revival of Sherlock mania as well by tying in the famous detective with their new 3D animated movie Sherlock Gnomes, which Kung Fu Panda director John Stevenson is now set to direct.
As we reported earlier this year, the film is a sequel to last year’s Gnomeo & Juliet, and that movie’s production company (Elton John’s Rocket Pictures) as well as its co-writers (Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil) will all be back for the follow-up film. Elton John is also writing music for the production as well as co-producing it. For the plot details and more, hit the jump.
Gnomeo & Juliet, the most gnome-filled Shakespeare adaptation to date, was a bit of lively if ultimately unsatisfying fun buoyed by a soundtrack of Elton John hits. As it did solid bank at the global box office, John (who was an exec producer on the film) and his production company Rocket Pictures are gearing up for a sequel called Gnomeo & Juliet: Sherlock Gnomes (hey, you try coming up with a concept that rhymes with “gnomes.” It’s hard!).
Per Deadline, John is back in the studio composing new music for the film (the first one having featured only two new tunes mixed in with the classics), while Gnomeo writers Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil are working on the script. Original director Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2), meanwhile, will be sliding into a “creative consultant” role. This time around, the plot will see the titular protagonists (originally voiced by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt) seeking out the renowned (but inept) gnome detective to solve a rash of gnome disappearances. Like its predecessor, this one will be available in gnome-tacular 3D.
Music legend Elton John has a soft spot for Nerds and wants to bring them to the big screen. John’s Rocket Pictures recently acquired film fights to the bestselling series Nerds by author Michael Buckley. The title, which stands for “National Espionage, Rescue and Defense Society” is about a group of self-professed outcasts and losers who form an espionage unit from within their elementary school. Together they battle a beauty queen-turned-assassin known as Hyena and an assortment of villains using high-tech gadgetry. John and Rocket Pictures are looking to turn the property into a family-friendly animated feature which will be scripted by series creator, Buckley. Hit the jump for more on Nerds.
Acclaimed filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s latest film, We Bought A Zoo, is based on the inspiring true story of Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon), an adventure-seeking journalist and single dad, who is looking to give his family a much-needed fresh start and ends up moving to a home situated in the middle of a zoo. While he and his two children attempt to bring the zoo back to its once glorious state, the Mee family, the eccentric team of zoo employees – including head zookeeper Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson) – and dozens of exotic animals, bond in ways they never could have imagined.
During this exclusive phone interview, the undeniably charming and easy to talk to filmmaker explained why he identified with this particular story, what made Matt Damon his perfect leading man, building a zoo from scratch and working with 70 exotic animals, why Jónsi (of the band Sigur Rós) was the right musician to do the score, finding the poetic moments of a story, and the importance of taking great risks, in your own life. He also talked about how strange it is to hear his dialogue often quoted, his upcoming documentary The Union (due out in January 2012), showcasing the musical collaboration between Elton John and Leon Russell, and that his next film will be an as-yet-untitled comedy, that he hopes to start shooting in the Spring. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Back in January, we reported that a biopic of Elton John was in the works. John himself is acting as an executive producer on the project, and is overseeing the development as Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) works on the screenplay. Details were scarce at the time, with John merely stating that the film will be more of a fantasy in the vein of Moulin Rouge! than your typical biopic. Well today we’ve got a few more details on the project. The film will cover John’s life from his days as a child piano prodigy to his life as a young man rebelling against his parents, parading in flamboyant costumes, and achieving fame with his collaboration with songwriter Bernie Taupin. Producer Stephen Hamilton Shaw described their approach to the project:
“Rocketman will be a radically different kind of biopic. It will be as unique as Elton’s life, told in a non-linear and hyper-visual manner that will transport people through the many intense experiences, some wonderful, some not, that helped define Elton as an artist, musician and man.”
Hit the jump for more details.
Forbes has released their list of the highest-paid men in entertainment. Minus Oprah, I bet it looks pretty much the same as the highest-paid people in general. That said, Tyler Perry does rep the diversity quotient at the top of the list with $130 million made from May 2010 to May 2011. Perry is not popular with the critics, but I continue to be impressed by the man who can outearn such power players (and notable white men) as Jerry Bruckheimer and Steven Spielberg. Perry has directed ten movies since his feature debut in 2006, and starred in most of them. In recent years the two TBS sitcoms Meet the Browns and House of Payne have proven a major contribution to Perry’s paycheck. He has a good shot at next year’s title, too: in 2012, he’ll deliver at least one more project, Good Deeds, and star in the potential franchise starter I, Alex Cross.
Look for the top ten and the oddities within (James Patterson?) after the jump.
Elton John’s production company Rocket Pictures has acquired the rights to Derek Keilty’s book series Will Gallows and the Snake-Bellied Troll. Deadline reports that John has set Gnomeo and Juliet writer/director Kelly Asbury. Rocket Pictures was responsible for Gnomeo and Juliet, and John plans to include musical aspects in Will Gallows much in the vein of that film. Will Gallows tells the tale of a sky cowboy who is tasked with bringing down the evil snake-bellied troll bandit. The story is said to blend fantasy and the Wild West (because the mashing up of those two genres has worked so well in the past).
Asbury wrote and directed Gnomeo and Juliet and was the co-director on Shrek 2. Will Gallows and the Snake-Bellied Troll will be produced using a blend of live-action and CGI. Personally, I found Gnomeo and Juliet incredibly hard to get through, as the story meandered and the song breaks came seemingly out of nowhere. Hopefully Asbury and John have a new direction in mind for Will Gallows. Hit the jump for a synopsis of Keilty’s book.
The British are coming…to host Saturday Night Live during the first two weeks in April. NBC just revealed that Elton John will return to the late night sketch series for the first time since 1982. But while his last appearance only had him as a musical guest, this time the legendary musician and singer will pull double duty as host and musical guest on April 2nd with Leon Russell as a featured performer.
In addition, the lovely Helen Mirren (who will next be seen in Arthur) will host on April 9th with musical guest Foo Fighters. Such a classy lady who can be both dramatic and hilarious on camera. Sounds like a great line-up as the end of the season looms closer.
Today the Tribeca Film Festival announced that they will be hosting the world premiere of Cameron Crowe’s documentary The Union, which chronicles the collaboration between Elton John and Leon Russell. The premiere will be followed by a live performance from John himself. Ever the music aficionado, Crowe intimately documented John’s composing process, capturing the entire writing and recording process of John and Russell’s collaboration album “The Union”. Speaking about Tribeca’s selection of the film, Crowe had this to say:
“As a longtime fan of both artists, it was a pleasure to spend a year filming their collaboration. We can’t wait to show it to one of the greatest audiences in the world, the Tribeca Film Festival.”
The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival takes place from April 20th-May 1st. Hit the jump to read the full press release.
The animated feature Gnomeo and Juliet features classic songs by music legend Elton John, along with new songs written with his longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin and featuring special guest performances. His first project as executive producer, the film tells the familiar story of two teenagers in love, only this time they are ceramic gnomes (voiced by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt) who have many obstacles to overcome, as a result of being caught up in a feud between their rival families, each in charge of their own garden.
At the press day for the film, the singer/songwriter/musician/humanitarian talked about the 11-year process of making Gnomeo and Juliet, revisiting his old music, his process for writing the new songs, why he loves listening to music from new artists, and how he’d love to do a feature film of his life story. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Screenwriter Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, Steven Spielberg’s upcoming War Horse) has been tapped to write a film based on the life of Elton John. John himself is approving the screenplay, and it sounds like it will be a much less traditional biopic than usual Hollywood fare. John had this to say when describing the project:
“It will be more of a fantasy, Moulin Rouge type of stuff. Obviously, it’s not going to be your normal, run-of-the-mill film. My life’s been so surreal, from buying a football club to God knows what.”
NME first reported the story (via Vulture). It doesn’t look like a director is currently attached, and it sounds like the project is very much in the gestation phase. One would assume that John has someone in mind to play him in the film. What do you think? Who could tackle the role of ‘Elton John’?
The frenetic, color-infused world of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge has now descended upon the Blu-ray shelves, where Nicole Kidman’s Satine and Ewan McGregor’s Christian find impossible love in courtesan-filled streets of late nineteenth century Paris. Though it’s the sort of film that demands to be seen on Blu-ray, this is a release just as pleasing for its cohesive extras as it is for the color-amped proceedings that unravel throughout the film. More after the jump: