Justin Bieber’s at times totally unbelievable Believe world tour has been made into a movie. Previously reported as a 3D flick, it’s now in the cutting stage.
The news, which has been bubbling for a while, should excite many who have been avidly following the adventures of the Biebs from the start of his tour in September last year to the present. The tour wraps in Atlanta on August 10.
Jon M. Chu, G.I. Joe: Retaliation director and force behind the close to $100 million grossing 2011 concert-biopic Never Say Never, is the man at the wheel of the upcoming Believe movie.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in an exclusive new interview, Chu opened up on what people can expect to see in the film, its process to fruition and the artist at its heart.
Chu’s flair with dance film storyboards is renowned, and it was his background with films such as Step Up: 2 and Step Up: 3D that led Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun to seek out the USC School of Cinema Television alumnus.
In Never Say Never, Chu filmed ten days of the then 16-year-old singer’s 2010 “My world Tour” in a determinedly emotive concert-biopic just before Bieber’s August 31 Madison Square Garden concert that same year.
Despite killing it at the box office and being beloved among ‘beliebers,’ the 2011 biopic has been compared — not at all ironically — by more than one reviewer as something akin to the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will.
Not surprisingly then, Chu is keen to stress that the upcoming Believe movie is light years away from the 2011 film, in both its content and tone.
“It’s almost about a boy becoming an artist rather than a boy’s life,” Chu notes. “Because his artistry is his [Bieber’s] life now.”
Revealing that the movie was originally intended as a simple arc of the Believe tour, Chu says it has now evolved beyond that with footage of “choreographed, non-documentary sequences as well as revealing behind-the-scenes” goings on.
While Bieber’s millions-strong army of ‘Beliebers’ will undoubtedly be content with whatever Chu puts together, for the rest, it’s the blood, sweat, tears and guts stuff that will be the draw.
Unfortunately, from the outline Chu describes it doesn’t sound as if the Believe film will cover much of the dramas that occurred on the tour from early March to, well, lets just say they continue.
With the film already at the cutting stage — and, going by Chu’s reveals — shot entirely in Miami, there will be glaring gaps that won’t touch the controversies of recent months.
If true, that’s a shame. The disappointment many popular culture watchers felt watching Beyonce’s much hyped HBO docu Life Is But A Dream, largely griped about the overly-controlled feel and content of the film.
The inevitable trope that the bigger an artist gets the more control they wield is never more clearly seen than in the ‘billed-as-warts-‘n-all’ product they release post-uberdom, that is anything but.
All may not be completely lost though. Of Bieber’s ongoing musical transition from cutie to adult artist, Chu says the movie will show “footage of him writing the first song for his next album on a piece of paper with a pencil. Blank page, erasing, writing. That’s where it starts.”
This aspect of the movie will indeed be interesting to watch. The 2013 Believe Acoustic album — intelligently nutshelled here — is a musical gleaming and many may be hoping the Canadian follows up that pared down approach.
In addition, earlier this month Grammy nominated Brit singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who was sent some of Bieber’s “music journals,” replied to the teen on Twitter with feedback saying: “very cool direction you’re taking the new stuff.”
According to Chu, the film will show the singer dealing with stresses of putting an album together. “You get to see the creative process of making songs under this kind of pressure,” said the 33-year-old.
The director also refers to the other pressures in Bieber’s life, the paparazzi that have long been a source of frustration for the teen star and will likely continue to be.
The 19-year-old’s brutal run-in with a Brit paparazzo on the fraught London leg of the Believe tour was an eye-opener to say the least. Emerging from his Park Lane hotel on March 8 to a gauntlet of paps, after he was cursed at Bieber told one of them: “I’ll f***ing beat the f**k out of you!”
It says something about the Believe tour that even that incident has since been superseded by the quarantining of the singer’s pet monkey in Munich, the Anne Frank guestbook firestorm, repeated media slams, a drugs bust in Sweden and battery allegations. That potted list doesn’t even cover everything.
But, lets face it, everyone is going to watch the Believe movie precisely for the thrills, spills, and perhaps, to gain an insight into what has been one of the most publicly turbulent periods in the teen superstar’s life.
As yet without a distributor, it’s a given the giants will be frothing to get their hands on the movie. The core trio — Chu, Braun and Bieber — who co-own the rights, are still figuring out whether to take the pay per view or straight to DVD route. The dream is a theater run. Something tells me they’ll get it.