Universal Wants An American Idiot

Cinema dreams of tomorrow

Universal Wants An American Idiot

by Owen Williams |
Published on

Back in 1994 when Empire was regularly leaping around the Kandi Klub to Basket Case, the idea that Green Day might one day be the engine behind a Broadway musical would have seemed mad. But now we're in the future, and having conquered the New York stage, American Idiot** is set to turn into a movie at Universal, with Milk and J Edgar screenwriter Dustin Lance Black penning the adaptation. Michael Mayer, who directed the stage version, will be behind the camera.

It's a year since Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman picked up the rights for their Playtone company, and no real surprise that Universal have bitten, since it leads to basically the same set up as Mamma Mia. Just with rather different songs.

The show uses all the tracks from the 2004 American Idiot album (plus some b-sides and some borrowed numbers from 21st Century Breakdown) to spin a tale of three friends in "Mindfuck America", finding individual ways to cope with their tension, across the alien nation, where everything isn't meant to be okay. One joins the army, one gets a girl pregnant and gets addicted to TV, and one, Johnny, turns to heroin and thinks he's the Jesus of Suburbia. The show won two Tony awards and a Grammy for the cast album.

Johnny's drug alter-ego St Jimmy was sporadically played onstage by Green Day's own Billy Joe Armstrong, who also co-wrote the musical's "book". Tony Vincent opened the show's run in the role, and it was also played here and there by Melissa Etheridge and AFI's Davey Havok. But it's Armstrong that's expected to inhabit St Jimmy onscreen. Can you hear the sound of hysteria?

The show closes on Broadway on April 24, and goes on tour in the autumn. There's no start-date for the film yet.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us