From Amy Winehouse to Queen, why do audiences love musical biopics?

Irish Times film correspondent Donald Clarke discusses what separates the show-stopping musical biopic from the bum note?

Listen | 24:45

Last weekend, the Amy Winehouse biopic ‘Back to Black’ jumped straight to the top of the Irish and UK box office. The release of the movie’s trailer earlier this year prompted immediate backlash from fans who argued the biopic had come too soon after the British singer’s death and risked exploiting her story.

However, in reality, most of the viewing public just can’t seem to get enough of musical biopics. Following the success of Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and the Elton John film Rocketman, studios are confident of a return-on-investment on these pictures. And audiences even love the satirical movies that mock the genre.

The problem is, they can be tricky to get right. You need great acting, singing or miming – and clever storytelling if you’re diverging from the truth.

Today, on In the News, Irish Times film correspondent Donald Clarke discusses why audiences love musical biopics and what separates a show-stopper from a bum note?


Presented by Sorcha Pollak. Produced by Aideen Finnegan, Suzanne Brennan and John Casey.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast