Amy Winehouse biopic finds director in Sam Taylor-Johnson

Say “no, no, no” all you want, but they’re making a musical biopic about Amy Winehouse whether you like it or not. 

Studiocanal is producing the project about the brilliant singer from working class North London who died at the age of 27, and Sam Taylor-Johnson is attached as director. While her biggest financial success was the first “50 Shades of Grey” film, Taylor-Johnson’s first feature was 2007’s “Nowhere Boy,” a “Young John Lennon” project. She has also worked with a number of artists for high level music video projects, like Elton John, R.E.M., and Rhye. Variety reports that she is looking for a “relative newcomer” in the lead role. Austin Butler’s critical success with Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” will likely help her in making that case. 

The project is called “Back to Black,” named for Winehouse’s breakout 2006 album that won her five Grammys—for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best New Artist, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year for the album’s track “Rehab.” (It lost Album of the Year to Herbie Hancock’s tribute to Joni Mitchell that featured Leonard Cohen, Norah Jones, Tina Turner, and others.)

“Back to Black”’s script is from Matt Greenhalgh, who adapted Julia Baird’s memoir for Taylor-Johnson’s “Nowhere Boy,” and also penned “Control,” Anton Corbijn’s biopic of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. He also wrote “Floodlights,” concerning a 1990s child sex abuse scandal with a soccer coach, that aired on the BBC this spring. 

While the film is sure to have tremendous music, it’s anyone’s guess how the story will approach Winehouse’s life and death. The singer’s career was previously explored in the Oscar-winning documentary “Amy” by Asif Kapadia. That film drew the ire of Winehouse’s father. Mitch Winehouse, who called the acclaimed project “horrible.” Last year Mitch backed a BBC documentary called “Reclaiming Amy,” which did not have the same impact as 2015’s “Amy.” Mitch has expressed “full support” for “Back to Black,” according to Variety.

Taylor-Johnson is busy at the moment. She’s also in pre-production on a project called “Rothko,” with Russell Crowe playing the great abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, co-starring Aisling Franciosi, Jared Harris, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the director’s husband. 

Here are just three clips to remind you how fantastic Amy Winehouse was. 




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