Spike Lee to direct film adaptation of David Byrne’s ‘American Utopia’
Oscar-winning filmmaker Spike Lee will direct the upcoming film, which will be a complete visual recording of a live “American Utopia” performance. The film adaptation of David Byrne’s critically-acclaimed Broadway show is slated to be released in 2020.
Byrne’s Todomundo, Lee’s Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks production companies, as well as RadicalMedia, will produce the film adaptation of Broadway show, while Participant will executive produce.
“Pinch me. This couldn’t have worked out better for this project. Spike Lee directing and Participant producing — two socially engaged teams, well, three, if you count us in the band, coming together in what I feel, will be something moving, important and unlike anything anyone has seen before,” Byrne said of the project in a statement via Deadline.
It is still unclear whether the yet-untitled film adaptation will be released on the big screen or streaming services.
“American Utopia”, which was born out of Byrne’s 2018 album of the same name, will end its five-month residency at New York’s Hudson Theatre on Feb. 16.
The show is based on songs from Byrne’s entire catalog, including hits like “Burning Down the House” and “Road To Nowhere” that are performed by the British musician and his 11-member band.
“I see it as the journey of a character who is me but not me, because it’s not necessarily biographical. He starts off within himself wondering how to be in the world, what’s the right thing to do, how you relate to other people. It’s all kind of a mystery to the character. Then this person finds himself within this little community — in this case the band — and that allows him to come out of his interior a bit,” Byrne told UltimateClassicRock at the time of the musical’s premiere in October 2019.
While Byrne and Lee have never collaborated, the American filmmaker has adapted several stage productions for the big screen in the past.
Among them are the filmed versions of Stew’s “Passing Strange” musical, and John Leguizamo’s “Freak” one-man show on Broadway.
In addition to working on the film adaptation of his Broadway show, Byrne launched the new webzine Reasons to Be Cheerful back in August.
The online publication, described by Byrne as “part magazine, part therapy session, part blueprint for a better world,” was created in collaboration with co-editors Christine McLare and Will Doig. IB/RGA
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