EXCLUSIVE: After helming such critically acclaimed original musicals as Sing Street and Once, John Carney is now ready to try his hand at the musical biopic as he is set to direct the untitled Bee Gees pic for Paramount Pictures. The studio has also hired John Logan to write the script.
Graham King of GK Films produce along with Amblin, and Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone via Sister. Barry Gibb, who participated in the director Frank Marshall’s touching HBO documentary How Can You Mend a Broken Heart about the Gibb siblings, is very involved in the narrative film and will serve as executive producer.
Paramount moved the pic off of its release calendar following today’s director change.
The Bee Gees had worldwide sales of more than 220 million records, establishing them as one of the biggest-selling groups of all time. While Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb first began performing together in the late 1950s with folk and soft rock, their popularity mushroomed after they wrote songs for Saturday Night Fever that fueled the popularity of disco and led to one of the top-selling albums ever, earning them five Grammys including Album of the Year. Even though the soaring success made them world famous, rich and an indelible part of the ’70s zeitgeist, their position as the symbol of disco put them unexpectedly on their heels when there was an eventual backlash to the whole polyester vibe.
When Maurice Gibb died suddenly in January 2003 at the age of 53, the remaining brothers retired the group’s name after 45 years of work. They re-formed in 2009, but Robin died three years later at age 62 and that has left Barry Gibb to spread the band’s legacy.
GK Films is no stranger to the musical biopic having guided the Queen pic Bohemian Rhapsody to box-office and Oscar success. Paramount has also been business in recent years in this genre with the Elton John biopic Rocket Man and is currently developing a Bob Marley pic starring Kingsley Ben-Adir.
Kenneth Branagh was attached to direct but parted ways with the project late last year due to other scheduling conflicts that included a time consuming awards campaign for Belfast, which won him the Oscar for Best Original screenplay on Sunday.
This will mark the first musical property based on real life musicians that Carney has tackled but the acclaimed director has made a career of helming award-winning original musicals. His breakout feature Once went on to win the Oscar for best song and went on to be adapted for the stage taking home eight Tonys. He also helmed Begin Again and Sing Street.
He spent the last two years developing and running the Amazon Studios’ series Modern Love, which he created and is based on the New York Times columns of the same name.
Logan, the three-time Oscar nominee (Gladiator, Hugo, The Aviator), won a Tony Award for his play Red and is currently represented on Broadway with the musical Moulin Rouge.
Carney is repped by WME and Casarotto Ramsay and Logan is repped by CAA.