As Deadline reported in June when FilmDistrict paid $10 million to acquire U.S. rights to the Elton John film Rocketman, Tom Hardy has been set to play Captain Fantastic himself in the Michael Gracey-directed biographical musical film. The script is by Billy Elliot‘s Lee Hall. Gracey’s directing Fox’s upcoming The Greatest Showman On Earth starring Hugh Jackman, and Disney’s The Muppet Man. FilmDistrict bought it when the film was the talk of Cannes, where it was shopped by UTA, the agency that structured the financing. It was there that UK-based Icon’s production arm AI Film agreed to come aboard to co-finance the film with Rocket Pictures.
The deal went down before FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel took over Focus Features, the latter of which will release the film. Schlessel’s distribution company paid around a $10 million minimum guarantee for a guaranteed wide theatrical release and size-able P&A. There is also a generous gross corridor after the film recoups. The film 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 than just about any musical artist of his era. John’s musical catalog is part of the mix, so this is going to be a major film. Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish are producing the project along with Lawrence Bender for AI Film. Sir Elton John and Access Industries’ Len Blavatnik are executive producing the film, along with Icon/AI Film CEO Aviv Giladi and FilmDistrict CEO Schlessel.
Here’s the official release:
Tom Hardy will star as Elton John in Rocket Pictures’ Rocketman, and Focus Features has come aboard to give the film a major U.S. release, producers announced today.
The Hardy deal caps a lengthy search to cast the role of Elton in the film, which will be co-financed by AI Film.
Much like the man himself, Rocketman is a larger-than-life movie musical spectacle that tells the story of a child prodigy turned music legend. Elton will re-record many of his iconic hits to parallel the emotional beats of the film that will have audiences on their feet, singing along to his much loved music. The film is scheduled to shoot in fall 2014.
Incoming Focus CEO Peter Schlessel, brought Rocketman from FilmDistrict to Focus Features.
Rocketman is produced by Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish of Rocket Pictures and Lawrence Bender on behalf of AI Film, the film production and financing company created out of the acquisition of Icon by Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries. Sir Elton John and Len Blavatnik are executive producing, along with AI Film CEO Aviv Giladi and Focus Features CEO Peter Schlessel. UTA Independent Film Group arranged financing for the project and negotiated the project’s sale to FilmDistrict. Good Universe is handling international sales.
“Tom is a stellar talent who will add extraordinary depth and nuance in bringing Elton’s story to life,” said Rocket Pictures CEO Steve Hamilton Shaw. “We are excited to have such a gifted actor on board, and equally excited to be in the hands of Peter Schlessel and the entire Focus Features team.”
“Tom is quickly becoming known as one of the world’s most versatile actors, and like others at the top of their craft, he has proven his ability to transform himself completely into the character or subject found in the material,” said Schlessel. “We are confident that Tom will embody the physicality and spirit of Sir Elton. This, in conjunction with the creative team led by Michael and Rocket Pictures, will provide the foundation for something that will be a unique cinematic event.”
Rocketman will be directed by Michael Gracey (Fox’s upcoming The Greatest Showman on Earth starring Hugh Jackman, and Disney’s The Muppet Man). The original screenplay is written by Academy Award® nominee Lee Hall (War Horse, Billy Elliot).
British actor Hardy will next be seen in Steve Knight’s Locke and in the reboot of the Mad Max franchise for Warner Bros. and George Miller. Hardy recently wrapped Child 44 with director Daniel Espinosa and Animal Rescue for director Michael Roskam. He most recently starred in The Dark Knight Rises and previously worked with director Chris Nolan on Inception. His credits include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bronson and Warrior. He is represented by CAA, Lindy King at United Agents and attorney Jason Sloane.