With visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads following the massive success of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, studio executives and filmmakers are salivating at the chance to put another rock band or musician on the big screen, and it looks like seminal punk rockers The Sex Pistols are next in line. According to a piece in The Daily Mail, filmmaker Ayesha Plunkett has been working on the film with Starlight Pictures for 18 months, and says that with Bohemian Rhapsody’s box office revenue approaching $1 billion, not to mention taking home four Oscars including one for Best Actor for Rami Malek in his star turn as lead singer Freddie Mercury, the time is right to push forward with the project.
“It only goes to show the public has an appetite for these films,” Plunkett said.
Indeed, viewers seem to be lapping up the rocker biopic genre, with Netflix having just released The Dirt, a biopic of hair metal band Mötley Crüe and Rocketman, a film telling the story of Elton John due out in May. Also, legendary director Danny Boyle of 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire fame will premiere a new film called Yesterday at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. That movie, while not a biopic per se, is heavily inspired by the music of The Beatles, and features their songs throughout.
But when it comes to The Sex Pistols and punk rock in general, the fan base for their music is by definition much smaller. But given the tumultuous history of the short-lived band – Plunkett and the production team have been working on the film for nearly as long as the band existed in its original configuration – the story might just be compelling enough to draw audiences. The group famously fought with their fans at shows, fought with each other on and off stage, barely knew how to play their instruments and even when they did, they were often too drunk or high to play decently. Before his death of a heroin overdose just two years after the band formed, bassist Sid Vicious would cut himself on stage and often seemed barely conscious while performing.
All of which could translate well for audiences who may not know or even like the band’s music, but who are well-versed in reality television and trash talk show programming. Maury Povich has nothing on Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, in other words.
But none of that will matter if the film isn’t up to snuff, as many critics have already said about the Mötley Crüe flick.
“Everything depends on how good it is,” said The Daily Mail’s film critic Brian Viner. “Whether you loved or hated the Sex Pistols… they certainly represented a moment in history. If the film really captures the social and cultural significance of the punk movement, with humour and a lightness of touch, then it could tap into the powerful nostalgia market.”