Paramount kicked off its CinemaCon presentation in rocking fashion this morning with dancers taking the stage to Elton John’s boppy “I’m Still Standing” and setting up a preview of John biopic/musical fantasy Rocketman. An extended look at the film, directed by Dexter Fletcher and starring Taron Egerton — who uses his own pipes for the many musical numbers — then followed.
This footage was different from what recently was shown to press in Los Angeles. It started with John (née Reginald Dwight) as a startling piano prodigy kid who enters the Academy of Music but wants to rock rather than playing “dead people’s music.” We learn how Reggie changed his name and ultimately played his first U.S. concert at the Troubadour in 1970 — with Neil Diamond and half of the Beach Boys in the audience.
Fletcher, who stepped in to finish the mega-musical blockbuster Bohemian Rhapsody, does not skimp on the tunes. Featured in just the 10 or so minutes we saw here in Vegas were such iconic songs as “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” (in a scene set at a carnival), “Daniel,” “That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” “Sad Songs (Say So Much),” “Your Song,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Crocodile Rock” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.”
We also get a glimpse of John’s struggles when Egerton’s doppelgänger says, “Maybe I should have tried to be more ordinary.” Jamie Bell’s Bernie Taupin replies, “You were never ordinary.”
Egerton and Fletcher came to the stage after the clip, with the director noting, “Elton is known for his spectacle and theatricality, so bringing his music to big screen was a challenge and also exciting.” He also wanted to make sure they provided “a truthful and honest portrayal. It was important to him and us.”
For Egerton, there certainly was pressure, but he wanted to be “irreverent with the role” and give a “glimpse of the unseen, behind-closed-doors life of a man who had a notoriously turbulent time” while also making fans happy and making John likable with “a raw celebration of a great man.”
From Marv Films, Rocket Pictures and New Republic Pictures, Rocketman is produced by Matthew Vaughn, David Furnish, Adam Bohling and David Reid with John exec producing with Steve Hamilton Shaw, Michael Gracey, Claudia Vaughn and Brian Oliver. Lee Hall wrote the script.
Also starring are Richard Madden, Gemma Jones and Bryce Dallas Howard.
The rollout for Rocketman starts overseas in mid-May with the film hitting domestic theaters on May 31. We expect/hope to see this in Cannes,, where John filmed the video for “I’m Still Standing” at the Carlton Hotel many years ago.