It’s a beautiful day at Netflix.
The streaming giant is teaming with J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot Productions banner to develop a scripted series about legendary rock band U2, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The untitled show, which is currently in the early development stages, will be penned by Anthony McCarten. The Oscar-nominated writer will mark his return to the world of music biopics with the U2 series following 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which focused on Queen frontman his Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek).
Details of U2’s involvement are being kept under wraps though sources say the band behind hits including “With or Without You” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” is expected to be involved and sanction the project. The series hails from Warner Bros. Television, where Abrams’ Bad Robot is housed under a rich overall deal. Plot details are also being kept under wraps.
Reps for Netflix, Warners and Bad Robot all declined comment.
News of the U2 series arrives as music-themed biopics have seen a resurgence in popularity following the likes of McCarten’s Bohemian Rhapsody, 2019’s Elton John-themed Rocketman and Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Elvis Presley feature starring Austin Butler. A search is currently underway for an actress to star as pop icon Madonna in a biopic that the Material Girl is co-writing and directing. A Bob Marley biopic is also in the works.
U2 — fronted by Bono, lead guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. — was formed in 1976 out of Dublin, Ireland, and has released 14 studio albums. The frequently political band has sold more than 170 million records worldwide, taking home a record 22 Grammys. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. With albums including The Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum, Achtung Baby and, more recently, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, the group ranked 22nd on Rolling Stone’s 2010 list of the greatest artists of all time.
For his part, McCarten is an acclaimed biographer who also explored the lives of Stephen Hawking, Winston Churchill and Pope Benedict XVI and Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio in The Theory of Everything (2014), Darkest Hour (2017) and The Two Popes (2019), respectively. He earned a best adapted screenplay Oscar nomination for his work on The Theory of Everything and Two Popes. Darkest Hour and Theory of Everything were also nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards. He’s repped by CAA.
Since signing the massive overall deal with WarnerMedia in September 2019, Bad Robot has been aggressively ramping up its TV slate. Abrams and his Bad Robot banner that he runs with partner (and wife) Katie McGrath is also behind the HBO Max’s DC Comics-based Justice League Dark franchise, which features shows including Constantine and Madame X.
Other projects in the works include an adult animated Batman series that reunites Abrams with his Felicity collaborator and friend Matt Reeves (who is behind The Batman feature film). Abrams and Bad Robot are also working on originals including HBO’s Demimonde and Max’s Subject to Change. Both of those dramas are based on original ideas from Abrams and have formal series orders. Abrams is directing the pilot for Demimonde, the sci-fi drama that marks the first show he has created since Fringe for Fox in 2008. Demimonde, which landed at HBO following a bidding war with Apple, has already changed showrunners after being picked up to series in early 2018. Premiere dates for both have not yet been determined. On the film side, Abrams recently announced that he was working on a new Star Trek feature film for Paramount that will reunite the cast of his Chris Pine-led franchise. Abrams is repped by CAA.
It’s interesting that the U2 series is being developed for Netflix and not a WarnerMedia-backed platform given Abrams’ value at Warners. The Channing Dungey-led studio, which remains the main content supplier for streamer HBO Max, continues to prioritize selling to third-party buyers. Netflix, it’s worth noting, was considered the frontrunner to land the Abrams- and Warners-produced Overlook drama after HBO Max surprisingly passed on The Shining spinoff.
This story was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.