Amy Adams’ reps have confirmed that the 35-year-old actress will portray Janis Joplin in the biopic to be directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God) and produced by Temple Hill Entertainment. Whether or not this movie actually makes it to the big screen is another matter entirely. Meirelles may be co-writing the most recent draft of the script, but he is set to direct 360 — a BBC Films project written by Peter Morgan — prior to beginning work on Joplin. Also, the film does not yet have a studio partner, though a source says Temple Hill is talking to Fox Searchlight about the film. Until a deal is reached though, financing on the project remains shaky. Temple Hill didn’t return calls seeking comment. But the producers, who are also behind The Twilight Saga, are not the first to try to bring Joplin to the big screen.
In fact, over the last decade, two competing projects have been fighting for their chance to be first with Joplin’s story. Armed with the majority of the rights needed to make the biopic, including those to Joplin’s most famous songs and the life rights to people close to her, producer Peter Newman (The Squid and the Whale) has been the one most equipped to make the project, now titled The Gospel According to Janis. But over the last ten years — even with a bevy of stars attached, including Lili Taylor, rock star Pink, and Zooey Deschanel — the right combination never came together. “For us, the issue has never been rights,” says Newman. “It’s that I’m trying to make a really good movie and it’s very hard to get all the elements together at one time: the right director, the right star, the right script, and the right amount of money.” Newman, however, says he’s currently out to a “world-class director.” Also, he’s working with Rolling Stone magazine founding editor David Dalton — who spent a lot of time with Joplin during the last few months of her life and subsequently wrote the book Piece of My Heart: A Portrait of Janis Joplin — on crafting the right story for the screen.
The other project, titled Piece of My Heart, has been shepherded by Lakeshore Entertainment. Renée Zellweger was attached to star and produce back in 2003, but that project never came together.
As for the Adams/Meirelles project, which is called Get it While You Can, the script from musician-turned-writer Ron Terry had been owned by Fox Searchlight for the last few years. In fact, around three years ago, Catherine Hardwicke and Reese Witherspoon was a possible director/star combination being discussed. That didn’t come together, and the project lay dormant until Temple Hill found a common vision with Brazilian filmmaker Meirelles. In an ideal world, sources say Meirelles would begin filming the biopic at the end of the year — if his other project, 360, can’t come together. If not, then a start date would have to be pushed into 2011. And by then, who knows where Peter Newman will be with his efforts.
One thing is true: Audiences would love to see Janis Joplin’s story hit the big screen. The blogosphere has been afire since the news was reported last week. Here’s hoping someone can actually get it into theaters, soon.