Musicals are making a strong comeback to the big screen, whether in sequels (Mary Poppins Returns), live-action versions of animated classics (most recently Beauty and the Beast), or simply new stories to tell with a big dose of singing and dancing (such as award-winning La La Land). Given the musical nature of these films, it’s no surprise that musicians are getting involved in them – and not exclusively in the making of the music.
Musicians like Justin Timberlake, John Legend, and Pharrell Williams have been making their way in the film industry beyond musical production by getting involved in other areas, such as producing and even acting. Continuing this path, Williams and Fox are now developing a musical inspired by his life.
According to Tracking Board, 20th Century Fox is making the jump into the musical genre with Atlantis, a film inspired on Williams’ childhood in Virginia Beach. Broadway director Michael Mayer (American Idiot) is attached to direct, with Toy Story 4 screenwriter Martin Hynes penning the script, and Gil Netter, Mimi Valdes, and Williams himself on board as producers. The project is being described as a “Romeo & Juliet-style love story with a musical element” – a very hip-hop/funk element, given Williams’ musical styles.
In addition to his prolific music career, Williams has been making his way in the film industry with musical contributions to the Despicable Me films, as well as producing, writing several songs, and supervising the soundtrack of Fox’s Hidden Figures. Among his recent cinematic work is Roxanne Roxanne, where he served as producer.
As the film will be focusing on Williams’ formative years in his hometown, there’s a good chance it could include his early work with Chad Hugo, whom he met at a summer band camp, and with whom he formed his first band, The Neptunes, and subsequently N*E*R*D, the funk rock band that helped consolidate their music careers. Plus, both The Neptunes and N*E*R*D are key moments from Williams’ life, so we can only hope it will be added to the story in some way.
Mayer has experience in non-conventional musicals, such as American Idiot and Spring Awakening, which added to Williams’ musical style will surely make an interesting musical worth watching – and a soundtrack to die for.
We will keep you posted on further details regarding Atlantis.