2020 movies: The best upcoming musical biopics this year, from Elvis to Bowie

4 February 2020, 15:36 | Updated: 17 February 2020, 13:37

2020 movies: This year's biggest upcoming biopics, including Elvis, David Bowie and Boy George
2020 movies: This year's biggest upcoming biopics, including Elvis, David Bowie and Boy George. Picture: Getty

By Sian Hamer and Tom Eames

2020 is set to be a fantastic year for biopics, and we've rounded up the biggest releases planned to hit both the silver and small screen this year.

Over the last few years we've been treated to incredible biopics and movies about some of the biggest names in music.

Following the success of Dexter Fletcher's Rocketman, and Bryan Singer's Bohemian Rhapsody, several legendary musicians are now having their stories portrayed on film.

Here's all we know about some of the biggest upcoming biopics:

  1. Respect (Aretha Franklin)

    The life and career of legendary of American singer-songwriter Aretha Franklin is being made into a biopic titled Respect.

    Jennifer Hudson is taking on the main role, after apparently being picked by Aretha herself before she passed away.

    Jennifer Hudson to play Aretha Franklin in biopic
    Jennifer Hudson to play Aretha Franklin in biopic. Picture: Getty

    Read more: Watch the first trailer of Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in the movie Respect

    The movie is set to cover the life of Aretha – from singing as a child at her father’s church’s choir, to becoming an iconic superstar and civil rights activist.

    The film is planned to be released on August 14, 2020

  2. Stardust (David Bowie)

    Stardust is set to be one of the biggest biopics of 2020, chronicling a 24-year-old David Bowie's life around the time of his 1971 album Hunky Dory.

    The film will explore the moments that inspired the creation of Bowie's first and most memorable alter ego – Ziggy Stardust – and will document the pivotal time in his career when he became one of the world's greatest cultural icons.

    Johnny Flynn will be taking on the role of David Bowie in the upcoming biopic
    Johnny Flynn will be taking on the role of David Bowie in the upcoming biopic. Picture: Getty

    The role of Bowie has already been cast – and it's Lovesick star Johnny Flynn. The actor is also a musician, singer and songwriter, and is the lead singer of the band Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit.

    Read more: Here's your first look of Johnny Flynn as David Bowie in the movie Stardust

    There isn't an official release date for the film, but it's expected to be released later this year.

  3. Elvis Presley

    The King of Rock is among several other music legends whose life will be chronicled in an upcoming biopic.

    Elvis Presley will be played by Austin Butler – an American actor who found fame in Nickelodeon TV shows and The Carrie Diaries.

    Read more: Elvis Presley movie: Priscilla and Jerry Schilling reveal Baz Luhrmann biopic details

    Austin Butler will be taking on the role of Elvis Presley in the biopic
    Austin Butler will be taking on the role of Elvis Presley in the biopic. Picture: Getty

    Priscilla Presley will also feature in the biopic, and is set to be played by actress Olivia DeJonge.

    The movie is being directed by Baz Luhrmann – the master behind The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge! and multiple cinematic hits.

    No trailer has been released as of yet, but pictures of Butler sporting a black quiff are enough to help us envision how he'll take on the role.

    There isn't an official release date yet, but it's been reported that October 21, 2020 has been set as the release date by bosses.

  4. The Power of Love (Celine Dion)

    The Power of Love, a film inspired by Celine Dion – but not based exactly on the superstar – is set to be released this year.

    The French studio behind the film, Gaumont, have said the movie will not be a biopic, but instead a homage to the Canadian singer which will take inspiration from her life and feature some of her biggest hits.

    Celine Dion inspired movie set for release this year
    Celine Dion inspired movie set for release this year. Picture: Getty

    Directing the movie is French actress, screenwriter, director and singer Valerie Lemercier – who will also star as the main character.

    The story will follow a character inspired by Dion, who discovers in her teens that she has a major talent. She goes on to become a global sensation, before having to deal with the tragedy of losing her husband.

    Permission for the plans was granted to the French movie studio by Celine herself.

  5. Boy George

    A Boy George biopic is apparently in the works, with British-American film director Sacha Gervasi set to write and direct the film.

    The currently untitled biographical movie will chronicle the life and career of the Culture Club frontman, including his childhood in Woolwich and his rise to fame during the New Romantic era of pop in London.

    A biopic about Boy George is apparently in the works
    A biopic about Boy George is apparently in the works. Picture: Getty

    The lead role is yet to be announced – but Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner was linked to the position last year.

    Read more: Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner might play Boy George in new biopic

    There's also no release date at the moment – so we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for that.

  6. Bee Gees

    Bradley Cooper could play Barry Gibb
    Bradley Cooper could play Barry Gibb. Picture: Getty

    A new movie about the Bee Gees is in the works, and a huge Hollywood star is apparently tipped to play Barry Gibb.

    Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King has reportedly approached Bradley Cooper to star as Sir Barry, according to the Daily Mail.

    The film will apparently follow the three brothers from their arrival from Australia to 1960s London, and through their ups and downs in the music industry, including how they became disco kings thanks to the success of Saturday Night Fever.

    The Bee Gees movie will be written by Anthony McCarten, who also wrote Bohemian Rhapsody.

    However, A Star is Born actor Bradley Cooper’s spokesperson said he is “not in negotiations at the moment”.

  7. So Much Love (Dusty Springfield)

    So Much Love will tell the story of soul legend Dusty Springfield, played by previous Bond girl Gemma Arterton.

    The movie will be set in 1968, at the peak of Dusty's popularity, when the icon travelled to Tennessee to record the album Dusty in Memphis.

    Gemma Arterton will play Dusty Springfield in So Much Love biopic
    Gemma Arterton will play Dusty Springfield in So Much Love biopic. Picture: Getty

    The film will also explore Dusty's experiences with the music of Motown, her stand against apartheid policies and the troubling brushes she had with men in the music industry.

    Although there isn't an official release date, So Much Love should be hitting screens pretty soon as it was originally set for release last Autumn.

  8. Bob Dylan

    Timothée Chalamet will play Bob Dylan in an upcoming biopic
    Timothée Chalamet will play Bob Dylan in an upcoming biopic. Picture: Getty

    Timothée Chalamet will play singer Bob Dylan in an upcoming biopic.

    The movie about the musician’s early life in music will be directed by 'Le Mans '66' filmmaker James Mangold and produced by Searchlight Pictures.

    With a working title of Going Electric, a synopsis for the film reveals it will depict Bob’s controversial 1965 decision to embrace the electric guitar.

  9. Leonard Bernstein

    The legendary American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein is another music legend set to have a film based off his life.

    Bradley Cooper will be taking on the lead role as Leonard – and will also produce and direct the film.

    According to Deadline, the film will not be a biopic in the traditional sense, but instead will span over 30 years, telling the complex marriage story of Bernstein and his wife, Felicia Montealegre.

    Conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein. Picture: Getty

    So far the movie has some of the biggest names in the industry involved, including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Todd Phillips and Emma Tillinger Koskoff.

    Just recently, Netflix acquired rights to the film. A release date has not yet been announced.

  10. John Lennon and Yoko Ono

    Back in 2018, there was lots of talk about a biopic documenting the love story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

    Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallée was drafted in by Universal Pictures, along with scriptwriter Anthony McCarten who penned Freddie Mercury's film Bohemian Rhapsody.

    Read more: Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher reveals the John Lennon storyline he wishes he included

    Ono was even set to support the making of the movie by sitting alongside Michael De Luca as a producer.

    The film producers said the movie will stop short of Lennon’s assassination – instead centring the film around more of a celebration and journey of the couple.

    Unfortunately there hasn't been much news since the initial buzz at the end of 2018 – so we're not too sure of release dates or if the film is even still in production (which we really, really hope it is).