Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer will once again work with director Tate Taylor on the upcoming James Brown biopic entitled Get On Up. Chadwick Boseman, fresh off his performance as Jackie Robinson in 42, will star as the funk/R&B legend. Davis and Spencer will appear as James Brown’s mother and aunt, respectively. Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Fair Game, The Last Legion) will handle writing duties and Brian Grazer and Mick Jagger will produce.
The pedigree of all involved suggest that Get On Up will be at least a moderate success. Spencer won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in The Help, while Davis received a Best Actress nomination. The Help also received a nomination for Best Picture. Meanwhile, 42 made little impact compared to the more typical summer blockbuster films of 2013, but was still a financial success and reviewed favorably, with Boseman’s performance a highlight for many. On the other hand, some have said of both films that the presentation was somewhat dry; that the movies relied on their ‘based on actual events’ premises over a new or imaginative means of telling their stories. Based on the reception of The Help and 42, viewers wanting a straightforward look at James Brown’s rise to fame will likely leave satisfied, while those tired of the based-on-a-true-inspirational-story formula will not be interested.
Get On Up will be distributed by Universal and is scheduled for release in October 2014.