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According to Deadline, a tremendous amount of interest is starting to form for a long-gestating biopic of late rock icon Janis Joplin. An auction for Janis – now attached with director Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) and actress Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea) in the leading role – is expected to be one of the most coveted at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. Though not a second of the project has filmed yet, reportedly, a few major specialty distributors are expressing interest and an acquisition may be confirmed in the next ten days, shorty before the film starts production this spring.
Deadline suggests Amazon Studios is making a strong show for the film, perhaps unsurprising considering the success they are currently in the midst of with their Sundance 2016 pick-up Manchester by the Sea. That film, which premiered at the Park City mainstay one year ago, is one of the top specialty hit of the year and has emerged as a major awards contender – Casey Affleck and Williams are nearly assured Oscar nominations for their emotionally charged performances next week. Yet, Amazon may have some competition – reportedly, their streaming rival Netflix has expressed interest as has hip specialty outfit A24 Films; FilmNation may also be in the mix for international rights to the title.
All of this is a positive sign after decades of development hell. Getting a Janis Joplin bio the screen has previously proved a challenge as a host of filmmaker and actresses (including the likes of Lili Taylor, Pink, Williams, Zoey Deschanel and Nina Arianda) have come and gone and then some. Janis was originally put forward at TriStar over two decades ago. Curiously, a rival project has had just as much trouble – Amy Adams, Renee Zellweger, Brittany Murphy and Evan Rachel Wood were all in contention to play Joplin over the year. The closest we’ve gotten – outside of Bette Midler’s loose 1979 film The Rose – has come in the form of a parody arc in the third season of 30 Rock – “Jackie Jormp-Jomp,” anyone?
Durkin’s Janis comes with a few reassurances – including a high profile leading lady who reportedly delivered while auditioning for the project – and more importantly, the support of the Joplin family. The film has already secured rights to 24 songs including the famed Joplin showstoppers “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Mercedes Benz.” Perhaps, Durkin and Williams can go the distance.