Focus Features is bringing Amy Winehouse to the big screen. The studio has acquired “Back to Black,” the upcoming biopic of the beloved singer from Studiocanal, it was announced Friday. Focus Features also released a first look image from the film, featuring lead actor Marisa Abela in character as Winehouse.
News of this biopic about Winehouse’s life was first announced last July, with Abela reportedly joining the project later that month. The film will follow the acclaimed music artist’s rise to fame through her 2006 album “Back to Black,” before her tragic 2011 death from alcohol poisoning. Since 2011, multiple biopics about Winehouse’s career have been in development, with stars like Noomi Rapace and Tania Raymonde getting attached to separate projects. In 2015, the acclaimed documentary about her life titled “Amy” was released and won Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards.
Sam Taylor-Johnson, best known for her directorial debut “Nowhere Boy” and the first film in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, will direct “Back to Black,” from a script by “Nowhere Boy” screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh. The film will feature many of Winehouse’s most famous songs, via the support of her estate and record labels Universal Music Group and Sony Music Publishing.
“My connection to Amy began when I left college and was hanging out in the creatively diverse London borough of Camden. I got a job at the legendary Koko Club, and I can still breathe every market stall, vintage shop and street,” Taylor-Johnson said in a statement. “A few years later Amy wrote her searingly honest songs whilst living in Camden. Like with me, it became part of her DNA. I first saw her perform at a talent show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho and it was immediately obvious she wasn’t just ‘talent,’ she was genius. As a filmmaker you can’t really ask for more. I feel excited and humbled to have this opportunity to realize Amy’s beautifully unique and tragic story to cinema accompanied by the most important part of her legacy – her music. I am fully aware of the responsibility, with my writing collaborator — Matt Greenhalgh — I will create a movie that we will all love and cherish forever. Just like we do Amy.”
Focus Features will distribute “Back to Black” in the United States, while Universal Pictures International will handle international distribution. Studiocanal will handle distribution in the UK, France, Germany, Aus/NZ, Benelux, Scandinavia, and Poland which will be handled by Studiocanal. The distribution deal was closed by Anne Cherel, Aska Yamaguchi and Sophie Leuthreau for Studiocanal and Howard Meyers and Marin Babb for Focus Features.
Filming is set to begin January 16 in London. Alison Owen and Debra Hayward produce for Monumental Pictures, while Ron Halpern and Joe Naftalin executive produce for Studiocanal alongside Nicky Kentish-Barnes.