Good news, music fans: One of Broadway’s most high-profile recent hits is getting the cinematic treatment, at last. (And no, it’s not Hamilton. Keep your pants on, Francis, it’s coming.) Variety reports this week that David Byrne’s critically acclaimed career retrospective American Utopia is set to make the move to the big screens some time in the near future, courtesy of a little help from director Spike Lee. A wide-ranging tour through Byrne’s entire career—from his Talking Heads days up through the 2018 album of the same name—American Utopia has drawn rave reviews for its energetic presentation of some of the best music of the last several decades.
Byrne, of course, is no stranger to working with legendary directors, on account of the whole “co-responsible for one of the most beloved concert films of all time” thing. (It’s not for nothing that he compared American Utopia in interviews to the same energy he and the rest of Talking Heads once brought to the sessions that formed the spine of Stop Making Sense.) The original touring show of American Utopia was marked by, among other things, its minimalist set design, combined with the occasional striking visual or silhouette. It’ll be interesting to see what Lee does with it—although he’s filmed numerous comedy specials, music videos, and music documentaries over the years, including a whole series of docs and short films on Michael Jackson—it’s rare for him to go for a pure concert film. On the one hand, he’s got some pretty big shoes (suits?) to fill; on the other hand, he’s Spike Lee; this feels like something of a natural fit.