EXCLUSIVE: Rocket Pictures has set commercials director Michael Gracey to helm Rocketman, the biographical musical film about Sir Elton John. I’ve told you about this one before. There is a script in by Billy Elliot‘s Lee Hall, and Gracey will direct a feature that follows John’s journey from 5-year old musical prodigy who by age 11 won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, to a young man who rebelled against his strict upbringing, wore outrageous costumes and became a global icon who teamed with songwriter Bernie Taupin to sell more records that just about any musical artist of his era. “Michael has an innovative, imaginative and compelling vision for the film,” said Rocket CEO Steve Hamilton Shaw. “We want to create an experience that surprises and moves audiences and knew immediately that he was the perfect director to take them on this journey.”
Gracey is separately booked to direct Fox’s The Greatest Showman On Earth with Hugh Jackman attached to star and Disney’s The Muppet Man, produced by the Jim Henson Company. Rocketman will feature fantastical choreographed sequences around Elton John’s biggest hits. Gracey’s well known for his dance-filled commercials work. “Everyone knows and loves Elton John’s music, but the true story of his life is so incredible that it can only be described as a fantasy,” Gracey said. “His journey from impossible dreamer to stardom and uncontrollable excess is something only a musical film can capture, and I’m so excited to be the one to tell his story.”
The search is underway to cast the child Elton John, conducted by Jessica Ronane, whose credits include Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Billy Elliott The Musical and Matilda. No telling yet who’ll play him as an adult, but did anyone see the job Justin Timberlake did impersonating Sir Elton when he hosted Saturday Night Live a little over a week ago?
Rocket Pictures is the film and TV company hatched by Elton John to focus on family and music-themed projects for multiple platforms. That includes the 3-D animated movie Gnomeo & Juliet for Disney, which had original songs by John and grossed near $200 million worldwide. Rocket Pictures is at work on the sequel, Sherlock Gnomes, directed by Kung Fu Panda‘s John Stevenson; and Will Gallows And The Snake Bellied Troll, written and to be directed by Shrek 2‘s Kelly Asbury.
Gracey is represented by CAA and Partizan. Rocket Pictures is represented by UTA. Here’s a look at one of his memorable commercials: