EXCLUSIVE: FilmDistrict is nearing a deal to acquire U.S. rights to Rocketman, the Michael Gracey-directed biographical musical film about Sir Elton John. The script is by Billy Elliot‘s Lee Hall, and Tom Hardy is circling to play the lead role. This film was the talk of Cannes, where it was shopped by UTA, which 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 during the Cannes Film Festival. I’m told that FilmDistrict is betting big here, with Peter Schlessel’s distribution company paying 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. (more…)