EXCLUSIVE: Anthony McCarten is in talks to write the script for the Bee Gees movie that Paramount Pictures is making with producer-financier Sister, Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King’s GK Films, and Amblin Partners. The Oscar-nominated McCarten most recently scripted the upcoming Netflix film The Two Popes, the Fernando Meirelles-directed drama that stars Anthony Hopkins as Catholic Church Pope Benedict and Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis. That film will be released November 27.
McCarten has the distinction of having written three recent biopics that resulted in Best Actor trophies for the stars of those films. Eddie Redmayne won for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, Gary Oldman won for Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour and most recently Rami Malek won for Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, which was produced by King. I can imagine a spray-tanned Hugh Jackman making a good match for the rugged-looking falsetto-vocalizing Barry Gibb, who became group leader during the Bee Gees’ disco era rebirth, and McCarten’s streak certainly won’t hurt in securing actors to play Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. There are no actor attachments at this point.
Deadline revealed last week that the rights deal on the long gestating Bee Gees project had been made with Barry Gibb and the estate by GK Films’ King, and that Paramount and Sister had stepped up. Because Amblin had also been part of those unavailing attempts to make the rights deal, Steven Spielberg reportedly read the Deadline break and appealed to Paramount’s Jim Gianopulos and Amblin Partners was given a 25% co-fi stake in the production. Sister, the venture just launched by Elisabeth Murdoch, Snider and Chernobyl producer Jane Featherstone, will come on as either a producing partner or a co-financier in its first U.S. project.
The Bee Gees accounted for worldwide sales of more than 220 million records, established them as one of the biggest-selling groups of all time. Just when the early iteration of the pop band seemed to hit the wall partly because of the rise of disco, the trio got a second wind and became more popular than ever, after writing the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever, which prolonged the popularity of disco and became one of the top-selling albums ever.
McCarten has been nominated for three Academy Awards and five BAFTAs, winning two of the latter. Earlier this week, he was honored at the Hollywood Film Awards as Screenwriter of the Year. He’s also developing, with Neil Diamond, Diamond’s life story as a Broadway musical.