Elton John to Adapt 'Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' for Big Screen

Elton John
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

John will executive produce the animated musical with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

Elton John's Rocket Pictures has acquired the film rights to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's global hit play Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and will adapt it as an animated family feature in association with Webber's the Really Useful Group.

PHOTOS: Inside THR's Animation Roundtable

Based on the "coat of many colors" story of Joseph from the Bible's Book of Genesis, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was the first Lloyd Webber-Rice musical to be performed publicly. Rocket Pictures' Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish will produce the film. Webber, Rice and John will executive produce.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is one of the most popular musical experiences ever conceived," Shaw said. "We are excited about the huge potential of a contemporary animated version, and we're thrilled to bring this to the big screen in partnership with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice."

Added Barney Wragg, managing director of the Really Useful Group: "Developing Joseph as a new feature film marks the beginning of a new stage in the Really Useful Group's plans to co-produce and fund new films, television and stage productions from our theatrical shows, which play continuously worldwide."

Originally created by Webber and Rice for performance in schools, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the most performed musical in history. Today, it is performed thousands of times a year by schoolchildren across the globe, and the success of the piece in schools has given rise to an international theatrical phenomenon. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has now been seen by an estimated 26 million people, earning more than $600 million at the box office. It premiered on Broadway in 1982 at the Royale Theatre and became a critical and box-office hit, landing multiple Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations including best musical and best original score. The show has achieved a record 30 years of continuous professional touring around the U.K., will tour the United States later in 2014 and is a regular in international markets including South Africa and Korea.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat started in a school and was the first step on the path that led to my musicals with Tim Rice," Webber said. "It is now being performed all over the world by a fourth generation of schoolkids, and a great movie can only help Joseph being part of the lives of many more."

PHOTOS: The Making of Disney's Animated Oscar Contender 'Frozen

Added Rice: "I have always thought Joseph was a strong contender for an animation production, and I'm delighted this is now going to happen."

The film won't mark the first animated musical based on the Joseph story. DreamWorks made the 2000 direct-to-video movie Joseph: King of Dreams, with Ben Affleck as the voice lead.

The project is the latest in a ramping-up of Rocket Pictures' feature film slate. Rocket Pictures is currently producing Rocketman, the musical reinvention of John’s life, with Tom Hardy starring. The film is being co-financed by AI Film, and Focus Features will distribute. Rocket Pictures is also at work on Sherlock Gnomes, the sequel to Rocket Pictures’ 3D animated pic Gnomeo & Juliet, which was released by Disney and earned $194 million worldwide. The company also is developing the animated family film Will Gallows and the Snake-Bellied Troll, written and to be directed by Kelly Asbury.

Rocket Pictures is John's film, TV and theatrical production company that focuses on family and music-related projects across multiple platforms.  

The Really Useful Group is Webber's theater producing and rights licensing company and controls the theatrical rights for all of Webber’s works, including The Phantom of the OperaCatsJesus Christ SuperstarEvita and Sunset Boulevard.

Email: Tatiana.Siegel@THR.com
Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27