Netflix is collaborating with J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot Productions label created a scripted series based on the renowned rock band U2, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Anthony McCarten will write the untitled show, which is currently in the early phases of development. Following 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody (Rami Malek), which focused on Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, the Oscar-nominated writer will make his return to the world of music biopics with the U2 series.

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U2’s involvement is being kept under wraps, but sources say the band responsible for classics like “With or Without You” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” is likely to be engaged and sanction the initiative. The show is produced by Warner Bros. Television, which also produces J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot.

Netflix, Warner Bros., and Bad Robot all declined to comment.

The announcement of the U2 series comes at a time when music-themed biopics have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, following the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody, 2019’s Elton John-themed Rocketman, and Baz Luhrmann’s impending Elvis Presley film starring Austin Butler. A hunt is already underway for an actress to play music queen Madonna in a biopic co-written and directed by the Material Girl. A biopic of Bob Marley is also in the works.

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U2 was created in 1976 in Dublin, Ireland, by Bono, lead guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen Jr., and has released 14 studio albums. The band, which is frequently political, has sold over 170 million records worldwide and won a record 22 Grammys. In 2005, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With albums such as The Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum, Achtung Baby, and, most recently, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, the band was voted 22nd in Rolling Stone’s list of the greatest artists of all time in 2010.

McCarten, for his part, is a distinguished biography who has already written about Stephen Hawking, Winston Churchill, Pope Benedict XVI, and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (the future Pope Francis) in The Theory of Everything (2014), Darkest Hour (2017), and The Two Popes (2019). He received Oscar nominations for best adapted screenplay for his work on Theory of Everything and Two Popes. At the Academy Awards, Darkest Hour and Theory of Everything were also nominated for best picture. 

Bad Robot has been actively expanding its TV portfolio since securing a huge overall agreement with WarnerMedia in September 2019. Abrams and his Bad Robot label, which he co-owns with partner (and wife) Katie McGrath, are also behind HBO Max’s DC Comics-based Justice League Dark series, which includes shows such as Constantine and Madame X.

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Another project in the works is an adult animated Batman series, which will reunite Abrams with Felicity partner and friend Matt Reeves (who is behind The Batman feature film). Abrams and Bad Robot are also developing original projects such as HBO’s Demimonde and Max’s Subject to Change. Both of those dramas are based on Abrams’ original ideas and have formal series orders. Abrams is directing the pilot for Demimonde, a sci-fi drama that will be his first project since Fringe for Fox in 2008.

After being picked up to series in early 2018, Demimonde, which landed at HBO after a bidding war with Apple, has already changed showrunners. The premiere dates for both have yet to be determined. Abrams recently said that he is working on a new Star Trek feature film for Paramount that will reunite the ensemble of his Chris Pine-led trilogy.

Given Abrams’ value at WarnerMedia, it’s surprising that the U2 series is being developed for Netflix rather than a WarnerMedia-backed platform. The Channing Dungey-led company, which continues to be the primary content supplier for HBO Max, prioritises selling to third-party purchasers. It’s worth remembering that Netflix was thought to be the frontrunner for the Abrams- and Warners-produced Overlook thriller after HBO Max shockingly passed on The Shining spinoff.