EXCLUSIVE: BBC Films is set to back a movie about cult British rock band Stone Roses, whose reunion concerts announced last week sold out within minutes. The band’s self-titled debut has been voted the best British album of all time. Spike Island, a drama about the band’s May 1990 outdoor concert — which has been compared to the Woodstock of the ecstacy pill-dropping generation — starts shooting in March 2012. Elliott Tittensor (Shameless) and Matthew McNulty (Misfits) will co-star. Mat Whitecross, director of the Ian Dury biopic Sex&drugs&rock&roll, is the director, and the producers are Fiona Neilson and Esher Douglas of Fiesta Productions. State financier BFI Film Fund is already on board, as is Revolver Entertainment, which has taken UK rights. Bankside Films is co-financing and selling the project internationally. The band has given permission to use their music for the movie.
Meanwhile, Shane Meadows, BAFTA-winning director of This Is England, is in talks with the Stone Roses to film their upcoming reunion concerts next June; the band split up 15 years ago. The first two concerts, announced last week, sold out within 14 minutes of tickets going on sale. Promoters added a third date, and it too sold out quickly. Nearly a quarter of a million tickets have been sold for the three gigs in Manchester next year. Meadows filmed the press conference where the band announced the reunion but won’t commit to more filming until he finishes editing his new TV show This Is England ’88 in early December.
The Stone Roses film projects are not the only Brit rock movies getting underway. Director Michael Winterbottom is quoted in today’s Brit tabloid Daily Star saying that Liam Gallagher, ex-frontman of rock band Oasis, will appear in The Longest Cocktail Party, the film he’s making about Beatles label Apple. “Liam will have a part in it. He’s all over it,” said Winterbottom. “It’s about the mad chaos of Apple, so it’s not dissimilar to 24 Hour Party People.” It was Gallagher, a Beatles obsessive — he named his son Lennon — who optioned Richard DiLello’s memoir in the first place. The Longest Cocktail Party charts the period from 1968 to The Beatles’ break-up in 1970. Andrew Eaton, who is producing the movie, tells me he doesn’t know anything about Gallagher’s role and it sounds like Winterbottom was joking with the reporter. What is known is that Jesse Armstrong, creator of cult Channel 4 comedy Peep Show, is writing the script. “We are still working on it, and there will be other drafts to come before we get it right,” Eaton tells me. Gallagher’s production company 1 Productions is co-producing The Longest Cocktail Party with Eaton’s Revolution Films (360, Trisha). The rock star has said he wanted Johnny Depp to the play the pivotal role of Apple press officer Derek Taylor in the film. Eaton has said that might be problematic, given that Taylor was in his early 30s and from Liverpool, while Depp is 48 and American.
Back to the Stone Roses, and here’s a clip from Brit BBC pop show Top Of The Pops back in 1989 showing what all the fuss was about: