×

Writer, Producer Dish Details on Sex Pistols Film ‘Only Anarchists Are Pretty’ (EXCLUSIVE)

The new Sex Pistols film-in-the-making, news of which has punks young and old abuzz, has a name: “Only Anarchists Are Pretty.” The writer and producer of the project tell Variety that they are setting about getting the picture financed ahead of casting their Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten et al.

Producer Ayesha Plunkett is making the film through her recently formed Starlight banner. She said reports that it will be a straight-up biopic are wide of the mark. “It’s not a biopic. I’m not interested in doing that,” she said. “It’s a feature film, a script written from a book I liked by Mick O’Shea.”

O’Shea’s “The Early Days of the Sex Pistols: Only Anarchists Are Pretty” was published in 2004, and he wrote the screenplay, with input from Plunkett. As was the case with the book, it fictionalizes the events of the day, while sticking to the facts in terms of what the main players were doing and when.

“The only non-factual element is my putting words into their mouths, but the dialogue is in context with what was happening around them,” O’Shea, who has written several books on the British punk scene, said.

The book begins when John Lydon – Johnny Rotten – joins the band in August 1975 and spans the period through to the Sex Pistols’ famous expletive-ridden appearance on Bill Grundy’s “Today” show in December 1976.

But the producers wanted the band’s 1977 trip down the river Thames to be in the movie, so O’Shea’s screenplay covers a different period.

“We decided to do the six-month period from them going on the ‘Today Show’ to the release of ‘God Save the Queen’ and the trip down the river – that is the six months in which they were public enemy number one,” he explains.

The screenplay addresses the backlash following the “Today Show” appearance and recounts the Pistols getting sacked by EMI, winning and then losing a U.S. record deal with A&M, and signing with Richard Branson’s Virgin, which released “God Save the Queen.” Branson and his war of wills with Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren will be featured in the film. It also takes in Sid Vicious joining the group and Glen Matlock leaving.

But the film could face a backlash of its own. A tweet from Lydon’s official account made clear that this is not the official take on the Pistols’ story. A previous film treatment of the band left Lydon cold, according to O’Shea. “’Sid and Nancy’ presented the band as illiterate buffoons, and that’s a big part of John’s reticence to get involved with any other Pistols-related projects,” he said.

It is not clear how the rest of the surviving members of the band feel, but, as with another music film in the works, David Bowie feature “Stardust,” it is unlikely to have any of the featured artists’ tracks from the time. A previous effort to license “God Save the Queen” to Netflix for “The Crown” failed. The band is fiercely protective of the rights to its music and its story.

Several directors have been in the frame so far, but none has yet signed on. O’Shea and Plunkett say they plan to approach one who has an association with the band, and have another actor-director in mind as well. Entertainment accountants Alliots are working on the project, but the finance is not yet in place for the picture, which will have a budget in the £2 million to £4 million range ($2.6 million to $5.2 million).

More Music

  • Adam Lambert Queen

    Concert Review: Queen and Adam Lambert Capitalize on 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

    About half way through Queen and Adam Lambert’s Saturday night show at the Forum in Inglewood, guitarist Brian May took the stage solo to perform a few numbers. He began by acknowledging that day’s 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, as the video screen behind him streamed a real-time replay of the Apollo [...]

  • R Kelly Sexual Assult Accusations Mugshot

    R. Kelly to Face Charges in New York on Aug. 2

    R. Kelly has been ordered brought to New York for his arraignment on racketeering charges that allege he recruited young girls for sexual abuse at concerts across the country, according to the Chicago Tribune. The charges are part of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer that have been filed this year. Kelly, who [...]

  • Sturgill Simpson Announces New Anime Film,

    Sturgill Simpson Announces an Anime Film — and Album to Go With It — at Comic-Con

    From alt-country hero to anime producer, Grammy winner Sturgill Simpson is broadening his horizons. Appearing on a panel Saturday night at Comic-Con, Simpson announced an animated Netflix film, “Sound & Fury,” that he’s producing and wrote the original story for, to be accompanied by a simultaneously released album this fall he describes as “sleazy, steamy [...]

  • Garth Brooks Brings Blake Shelton to

    Garth Brooks Brings Blake Shelton to Boise for a Beer-and-Tears Stadium Gig (Watch)

    “I was singing with Garth Brooks! I’m freaking out!” said Blake Shelton, shortly after joining his fellow Okie on stage in Boise, Idaho Friday night. Shelton had flown out to the first of Brooks’ two nights at Albertsons Stadium to shoot a live music video for “Dive Bar,” the recently recorded duet that Brooks just [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show photocall,

    Cara Delevingne Says Her 'Carnival Row' Character Is Pansexual, Explains Defending Taylor Swift Against Justin Bieber

    Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom’s love affair may be at the center of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series “Carnival Row,” but the British actress doesn’t want viewers to assume her faerie character is heterosexual. “I’m a pansexual faerie,” Delevingne told Variety during an exclusive one-on-one interview at Comic-Con adding that there are other queer [...]

  • Ryan Adams Sexual Harassment

    Ryan Adams Re-Emerges After Sexual Misconduct Allegations

    Singer/songwriter Ryan Adams, who was blasted with accusations of sexual misconduct earlier this year, including inappropriate texting with a minor, re-emerged on social media with a long post early Saturday. “I have a lot to say. I am going to. Soon,” he wrote. “Because the truth matters. I know who I am. What I am. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content