Sam Taylor-Johnson is set to direct a major forthcoming Amy Winehouse biopic

·2-min read
Amy Winehouse performs at the Glastonbury, 2007 (AFP via Getty Images)
Amy Winehouse performs at the Glastonbury, 2007 (AFP via Getty Images)

Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson is on board to direct an Amy Winehouse biopic.

The film, titled Back to Black, has been in the works since 2015, but had been passed between writers and directors. Now it seems like the production is finally on the way.

British filmmaker Taylor-Johnson directed 2009’s Nowhere Boy and 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey. Also onboard is Matt Greenhalgh, who wrote the screenplay for Nowhere Boy and 2017’s Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, which earned him a Bafta nomination.

It will be produced by Studiocanal alongside producer Alison Owen, whose credits include 1998’s Elizabeth and 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks, and Debra Hayward, who executive produced 2007’s Atonement and 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

According to Variety, the new film has been given the go-ahead by Winehouse’s estate, including by her father Mitch who has long criticised Asif Kapadia’s 2015 Oscar-winning documentary Amy.

Reportedly, Winehouse’s estate agreed upon Back to Black back in 2018, although at the time it was Kinky Boots writer Geoff Deane who was set to write the script.

Sam Taylor-Johnson in 2019 (Getty Images for IMDb)
Sam Taylor-Johnson in 2019 (Getty Images for IMDb)

Speaking to The Sun in 2018, Mitch Winehouse said: “What we want is somebody to portray Amy in the way that she was…the funny, brilliant, charming and horrible person that she was. There’s no point really me making the film because I’m her dad. But to get the right people to do it, that’s very important, and we will.

Speaking about who would play Amy, he said: “I wouldn’t mind betting it would be an unknown, young, English — London, cockney — actress who looks a bit like Amy.”

In September 2021, news came out that another Amy Winehouse biopic was being produced, this time by Halcyon. US entertainment new site TMZ reported that the biopic did not have approval from Mitch. It was “100 per cent not allowed,” said Mitch, “They can’t be that stupid. Everyone knows proper licences must be granted.”

Amy with her dad Mitch in 2008 (Getty Images for NARAS)
Amy with her dad Mitch in 2008 (Getty Images for NARAS)

Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011. The six-time Grammy award-winning singer found international fame with her 2006 album Back to Black. Following her death, Back to Black became the biggest-selling album in the UK in the 21st Century.

In 2021, to mark the 10th anniversary of the singer’s death, Amy’s estate released Reclaiming Amy, a documentary which gave their side of the story. Narrated by her mother Janis, it featured interviews with Mitch and friends who had never spoken publicly before.

“What does emerge is a sense of the shocking, raw grief still felt by the family, and how much it was exacerbated by the scrutiny they were put under,” said The Standard. “It’s a decidedly respectful tribute that portrays her not as an icon but as a devoted and much-loved daughter and friend.”

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