EXCLUSIVE: Searchlight Pictures has closed a deal with Ford v Ferrari helmer James Mangold to direct Timothée Chalamet as the young Bob Dylan, during the period when he was poised to become folk music’s most seminal figure. When Dylan instead embraced rock ‘n’ roll and traded his acoustic guitar for an amp and an electric guitar, it created a huge outcry. And it cemented the status of rock music. Jeff Rosen, his longtime manager, is working on Dylan’s behalf actively with Searchlight and Mangold on the film, which the studio said is untitled but has been referred to around town as Going Electric.
Negotiations are underway with Chalamet, who has gotten strong reviews for Little Women, and who next will make his London stage debut opposite Eileen Atkins in 4,000 Miles, the Old Vic production of Amy Herzog’s Pulitzer-nominated drama. The play bows April 16 and closes May 23. It is expected he will do Going Electric after that. Chalamet has the Wes Anderson-directed The French Dispatch coming from Fox Searchlight this year, though no release date has yet been firmed. He closes the year starring in the Denis Villenueve-directed adaptation of the seminal sci-fi Frank Herbert novel Dune, which Warner Bros and Legendary release December 18.
I am not sure if he will sing Dylan’s great songs, but I’ve heard that Chalamet already is taking guitar lessons so he can familiarize himself with the acoustic and electric guitar.
Mangold, whose Ford v Ferrari has crossed the $100 million domestic gross mark and $200 million worldwide for a film that has gotten uniformly strong reviews, will be doing his second film about an iconic musician after the 2005 Johnny Cash-June Carter film Walk the Line. He has done a rewrite on a script written by Jay Cocks (Gangs of New York). Searchlight acquired the project after it was turned loose by HBO following the regime change there, with Chalamet quietly attaching at that time. The movie includes rights to the book Dylan Goes Electric by Elijah Wald.
The film will be produced by Dylan’s longtime manager Rosen, Veritas Entertainment Group’s Bob Bookman, Alan Gasmer and Peter Jaysen, Automatik’s Fred Berger, The Picture Company’s Alex Heineman and Mangold. Dylan will be exec producer along with Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Andrew Rona. Dylan’s music rights are part of the package.
Dylan was hailed as an acoustic prophet at age 19 when he exploded on the folk scene and seemed poised to follow in the footsteps of giants like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. So when he plugged in his guitar at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965, the eruption was profound. Some folk purists labeled Dylan a traitor, and there were even attempts to unplug his amp — emblematic of the discord between folk and the growing power of rock music. Others appreciated the evolution of the artist whose place in electrified rock was cemented by hits that included “Like a Rolling Stone.” The drama revolves around Dylan and his interaction with ’60s music legends including Joan Baez, Seeger and everyone who was around during that time.
WME and Management 360 rep Mangold, and Chalamet is repped by UTA and attorney Lev Ginsburg.