When Elton John first announced his self-produced biopic (does that make it an autobiopic?) ROCKETMAN back in 2011, the smart money was on the musician hiring a promising young commercial/music video director to oversee the production. While it'd be nice to see EJ team with an established musical director, unfortunately there just aren't too many of those around, and, even if there were, the notoriously demanding musician would probably want more control than they'd be willing to cede.
Enter Michael Gracey, an up-and-coming stylist with a knack for staging musical numbers as a means of selling potato chips, bottled water and iced tea. If he's the man standing in the way of Adam Shankman's version of ROCKETMAN, then god bless him. He'll be working from a script by BILLY ELLIOT's Lee Hall, but, most importantly, utilizing the Elton John songbook to dramatize the tumultuous story of a prodigiously gifted musician. Elton has never shied away from addressing his personal struggles via song (aided immesurably by the lyrics of Bernie Taupin), so this might not be a complete gloss. And if it is, it'll at least sound great!
The next big step is finding someone to play Elton John. It has been suspected for some time that an offer will go out to Justin Timberlake, who has proven quite adept at playing the young Elton. He's definitely my first choice. Here's hoping they the producers and agents can make it work.
Here's producer Steve Hamilton Shaw's desciption of the film:
It will be as unique as Elton’s life, told in a non-linear and hyper-visual manner that will transport people through the many intense experiences, some wonderful, some not, that helped define Elton as an artist, musician and man.
And here's JT as EJ in the video for "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" (off the very good SONGS FROM THE WEST COAST).