Q Magazine

The Biggest Upcoming Music Biopics

With 'Rocketman,' 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'One Love' all burning up the box office in recent years, Q takes a look at the biggest music films on the horizon.

music films
Source: MEGA; YouTube: MEGA

Michael Jackson, Bon Scott and Amy Winehouse are just a few of the music icons who will be heading into cinemas over the next several years.

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Back to Black (Release date: May 2024)

Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, who previously dramatized the young adulthood of John Lennon in Nowhere Boy, Back to Black looks to capture the formative years of Amy Winehouse, with Marisa Abela tackling the role of the late British singer. Of course, Winehouse’s life was previously the subject of Asif Kapadia’s Oscar-winning documentary, Amy, and the star’s family, in particular her father Mitch Winehouse, has long been critical of that film’s depiction of her short life. Yet while the estate has issued approving comments about Back to Black in the press, Taylor-Johnson was adamant that the creative vision will be fully hers. “It was important to meet with them out of respect,” she told Empire magazine. “But they have no involvement in terms of… like, they couldn’t change things. They couldn’t dictate how I was to shoot. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it.”

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amy winehouse cu
Source: MEGA

Winehouse died tragically of alcohol poisoning at 27.

A Complete Unknown (Release date: completely unknown)

The biggest problem with making a film about the life of Bob Dylan is that Dylan himself seems to have gone out of his way to make sure his career avoids following any obvious narrative throughline. There is no single biographical arc to Dylan's public life, but rather hundreds of miniature ones: some of them contradictory, some arising out of nowhere, some puzzlingly unresolved, and some possibly made-up. In 2007, director Todd Haynes approached this obstacle as an opportunity, casting more than half a dozen different actors as different versions of Dylan in his thrillingly experimental film I’m Not There, though anyone expecting to see a straightforward biography likely walked out of the theater quite confused. With director James Mangold (Walk the Line) on tap for A Complete Unknown, however, one might expect a more linear approach — indeed, the film will reportedly zero in on the moment when Dylan horrified the folk music establishment (represented by Edward Norton’s Pete Seeger) by going electric— and star Timothée Chalamet should attract no shortage of attention as he attempts to capture one of the most chameleonic cultural figures of the last century.

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bob dylan joan baez
Source: MEGA

Michael (Release date: April 2025)

It’s hard to think of a more compelling subject for a musical biopic than the life of Michael Jackson. It’s also hard to think of one with more potential landmines littered throughout -- from his traumatic childhood to the deeply troubling and widely-publicized accusations levied against him later in life -- and all eyes will be on director Antoine Fuqua as he looks to navigate these treacherous waters with his film due in April of next year. At least one can already say that the casting seems spot-on, with Jackson’s nephew Jaafar Jackson looking like the spitting image of the Thriller star in advance publicity photos.

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michael jackson
Source: MEGA

Untitled Bee Gees Film (Release date: unknown)

There have been attempts to launch a biopic of the multiplatinum brotherly group for years, but things started seeming much more tangible this past month, when news broke that director Ridley Scott (still remarkably prolific at age 86) had signed on to helm the yet-untitled project. It’s still very early in the process, with no casting announcements or shooting dates to speak of, but with lone surviving Bee Gee Barry Gibb onboard as an executive producer (meaning full access to the group’s music), and a director who knows how to cut to the chase, one could imagine this one finally coming together relatively quickly.

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bee gees
Source: MEGA

The Kid From Harvest Road (Release date: 2025)

Just announced last week, this film from Australian production companies Halo Films and Protocol Pictures aims to shine a spotlight on the early life of Bon Scott, the infamously freewheeling early AC/DC frontman whose mixture of menace and wit gave the band's early hits "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and "Whole Lotta Rosie" their special sauce. Young actor Lee Tiger Halley is on tap to play the young Scott, and though shooting in Western Australia has yet to commence, the producers are eying a 2025 release date.

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acdc bon
Source: YouTube

Untitled Linda Ronstadt Film (Release date: unknown)

Possibly retiring pop star and Only Murders in the Building actress Selena Gomez wasn't exactly subtle with her hints earlier this year, posting some otherwise inexplicable photos of Linda Ronstadt's memoir Simple Dreams to Instagram before confirming that she has signed on to play the folk-rock-country icon in a feature. David O. Russell is set to direct the yet-untitled film, with Ronstadt's manager John Boylan producing.

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linda ronstadt
Source: MEGA

Untitled Beatles Film Quartet (Release date: 2027)

There may well come a time when the public finally decides it has had enough deep dives into the 20th century’s most enduring musical icons. But judging by the success of Peter Jackson’s six-hour documentary Get Back — to say nothing of the fact that two short films inspired by the Beatles have won a Grammy and an Oscar in just the last two months — that time does not feel like it will come any time soon. That’s good news for Sam Mendes, who just recently revealed a wildly ambitious plan to direct four feature films, each from the perspective of a different Beatle, all due in 2027.

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Source: Apple

Untitled John and Yoko Film (Release date: unknown)

Speaking of which, Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallee revealed his intentions to direct a film about the early relationship between John Lennon and Yoko Ono back in 2018. At the time, the film had a number of heavy-hitters involved, including studio bigwig Michael De Luca, although it’s been several years since we’ve heard much about this one.

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john yoko
Source: MEGA

Untitled Grateful Dead Film (Release date: unknown)

In another of those “we’ll believe it when we see it” scenarios, Martin Scorsese made headlines back in 2021 when it was unveiled that he had cast Jonah Hill to portray Jerry Garcia in an upcoming film about the Grateful Dead. An inspired bit of casting, to be sure, and if anyone could be trusted to know his way around a Dead biopic, it’s Scorsese, who helped film the band’s performance at Woodstock before going on to direct God-level music documentaries like The Last Waltz and Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. But with the 81-year-old director seemingly deep into developing demanding period projects like The Wager and an adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s A Life of Jesus, this film may have a long, strange trip to production in store.

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jerry garcia
Source: MEGA

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Untitled Sublime Film (Release date: unknown)

With Sublime readying a return to festival stages at next month's Coachella (featuring late frontman Bradley Nowell's son Jakob on guitar and vocals), the time would seem to be ideal to revisit the Long Beach band's barnstorming run in the mid-1990s, capped by the cruel irony of achieving mainstream success after the death of its singer and lead songwriter. As announced in 2022, Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence has signed on to direct the Sublime film project, with Nowell's widow and both surviving original band members attached as executive producers. As a 2019 documentary on the band demonstrated, their story was both wilder and darker than many might have imagined, so it remains to be seen how much of that backstory will survive into a Hollywood production...but what we get will be what we've got.

sublime lisa johnson
Source: Lisa Johnson (courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival)

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