Every musical biopic in the works right now: Whitney Houston, Elvis, Take That and more

10 March 2021, 11:06

2021 movies: The best upcoming musical biopics this year
2021 movies: The best upcoming musical biopics this year. Picture: Getty

By Sian Hamer and Tom Eames

There are some fantastic biopics on the way in the next few years. Here's all you need to know about the upcoming movies...

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 scheduled to be released in the United States on August 13, 2021, and September 10, 2021 in the UK.

  2. Greatest Days (Take That)

    Gary Barlow confirmed the exciting news on Good Morning Britain, revealing that a movie celebrating the band's and journey and their music is in the works.
    Gary Barlow confirmed the exciting news on Good Morning Britain, revealing that a movie celebrating the band's and journey and their music is in the works. Picture: Getty

    Take That fans, rejoice! An upcoming musical film is on the way, and it's set to hit screens soon.

    Gary Barlow confirmed the exciting news on Good Morning Britain, revealing that a movie celebrating the band's journey and their music is in the works.

    The flick is described as "a feel-good universal story of love and friendship", and will feature some of the group's biggest songs.

    "Greatest Days is a film dedicated to all those who have supported us throughout the years. It puts a mirror on our audience – it's a celebration of our music but it's literally all about the fans and their friendships," Take That said in a statement.

    "Our fans have been on a 30-year journey with us and we have an incredibly strong bond with them, so seeing that they will be represented on screen by such a strong, talented cast is incredibly exciting."

  3. I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Whitney Houston)

    British actress Naomi Ackie will be portraying Whitney Houston in the upcoming biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
    British actress Naomi Ackie will be portraying Whitney Houston in the upcoming biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Picture: Getty

    British actress Naomi Ackie will be portraying Whitney Houston in the upcoming biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

    Stella Meghie is directing the movie which is being written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Anthony McCarten.

    Kelly Clarkson sang Whitney Houston's 'Run To You' from The Bodyguard and it was sensational

    It will follow Houston's life, from the start of her career in a church choir, to her tragic death in 2012.

    The film is being made with the blessing of the Houston estate, and is set for release in 2022.

  4. Elvis (Elvis Presley)

    The King of Rock is among several other music legends whose life will be chronicled in an upcoming film, in a biographical drama titled Elvis.

    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.

    It's scheduled to be released on June 3, 2022.

  5. Better Man (Robbie Williams)

    It's not just Take That who are getting a movie, but Robbie too!

    Michael Gracey - the man behind The Greatest Showman - is directing Better Man, which will apparently be a fatastical musical film based on Robbie's life and using his music.

    Robbie will reportedly re-record his famous hits for the film, while he will be portrayed as a CGI monkey. We're sold.

  6. Louis Armstrong

    American stand-up comedian and actor Tracy Morgan is set to play the famous musician, in a self-financed biopic about Armstrong's life, NME reports.
    American stand-up comedian and actor Tracy Morgan is set to play the famous musician, in a self-financed biopic about Armstrong's life, NME reports. Picture: Getty

    There's recent talks around a Louis Armstrong biopic which is apparently in the works.

    American stand-up comedian and actor Tracy Morgan is set to play the famous musician, in a self-financed biopic about Armstrong's life, NME reports.

    The Story of... 'What a Wonderful World' by Louis Armstrong

    It was Jermaine Fowler who made the revelation, telling the publication that his co-star is currently working on the biopic.

    "In fact, he showed us a clip of a movie he's financing that’s really, really dope. He wants to play Louis Armstrong in a biopic and I believe he can do it," Fowler said.

  7. Boy George

    A Boy George biopic is 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.

    Talking about the project, Gervasi said: “George has thrived on his authenticity, the fact he has been so ruthlessly, almost alarmingly honest.

    "I think the film has to reflect that."

    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.

  8. Bee Gees

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

    A new movie about the Bee Gees is being produced, 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”.

    Gibb recently revealed that the film could be released in the next couple of years.

  9. 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.

    There isn't currently an official release date for the movie.

  10. 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.

    David Bowie mimics Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and more in brilliant clip from 1985

    In October 2020, the film's cinematographer, Phedon Papamichael, announced the biopic had been put on hold.

    Papamichael said that the movie’s need for certain settings and costuming were proving a challenge during coronavirus restrictions.

  11. 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, who will be played by Carey Mulligan.

    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.

    Netflix acquired rights to the film, and recent rumours have circulated that production will begin on the in April 2021 – but this has not been confirmed yet.

  12. 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).