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New Prince Projects in the Works: A Hollywood Musical and Netflix Documentary

Prince performs at the Lyceum, London in June 1981 in the musician's first ever UK concerts. © Tony Mottram

A Prince movie is in the works, which could be both good news and bad news for fans. And that’s because, although Universal Pictures have got the rights to some of Prince’s most celebrated hits, this isn’t going to be a music bio in the vein of the Johnny Cash movie Walk the Line or 2016’s Don Cheadle as Miles Davis bio Miles Ahead.

No. This is going to be more in the vein of the popular, opinion-dividing ABBA-inspired Mamma Mia! musicals. According to Variety the film will involve an original story with Prince’s songs “driving the narrative”. They also say Prince’s estate had been approaching studios about making such a film, and Universal were the ones who acquired the rights.

The reason that neither Prince’s estate or Universal went down the biopic route was because they both felt it had been done already with 1984’s Purple Rain, which starred the man himself. And, well, you’re probably never going to better that. Not that that’s stopped Hollywood in the past.

Prince performing at the Lyceum, London 1981. © Tony Mottram

Plus, the musical can be a lucrative genre for studios too. This year has seen the Mamma Mia sequel and the A Star is Born remake both finding box office success, pulling in over $300m each.

And the appetite for legendary pop stars’ music on the big screen is as strong as ever. Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen movie, has become the highest grossing music bio ever, making $534m so far. And Rocketman, the musical and music bio based on Elton John’s life, is out next year.

Universal itself has both Last Christmas, a movie based on Wham!’s hit and featuring the music of George Michael, and the star-studded version of the musical Catswith Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, James Corden and Jason Derulo—both out next year.

Prince posing backstage at the Paradiso, Amsterdam during his Dirty Mind Tour in 1981. © Virginia Turbett

Still, if you’re a Prince fan who wants something a bit meatier, something a bit more about the music and the man, then there’s something for you too. Because you can look forward to the upcoming multi-part Netflix documentary about Prince’s life, which is being directed by Ava DuVernay, who made Selma and A Wrinkle in Time. The project was announced in October and will likely be out some time next year.

According to Deadline not only did Prince’s estate want DuVernay to make the doc, but Prince himself had contacted DuVernay before his death in 2016, to talk about a collaboration. Deadline also say that the director has been given full access to the Prince archives, which includes his recordings and the musician’s unreleased music.

So that’s certainly something for fans to get hyped about, the prospect of hearing more unheard tracks, and perhaps seeing more of Prince’s house, Paisley Park, which DuVernay and her team have been visiting.

Speaking about the project, DuVernay told Deadline, “Prince was a genius and a joy and a jolt to the senses. He was like no other. He shattered every preconceived notion, smashed every boundary, shared everything in his heart through his music. The only way I know how to make this film is with love. And with great care. I’m honored to do so and grateful for the opportunity entrusted to me by the estate.”

Below is the music video for Prince's "Mary Don't You Weep", which was released on the musician's posthumous album Piano & A Microphone 1983, which featured material from Prince's archive The Vault.

Rockarchive is delighted to be able to offer these iconic Prince images as limited edition photographic prints which you can buy here.

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