A new itch for merchandising, a fanbase now on the side of life that comes with plenty of cash to spend on nostalgia, and a poverty of original ideas coming out of Hollywood: What's a hugely adored band like the Grateful Dead to do?
Why, commission an Across the Universe-style film featuring its original music, that's what.
Deadline Hollywood reports today that the legendary S.F. psychedelic rock outfit -- which announced a new push for merchandising to fans earlier this year -- has representatives working to produce a flick that will feature its songs. But the film won't be a biopic -- rather, it will be a fictional narrative about San Francisco's Haight Ashbury in the 1960s and early '70s, built around the music of the Grateful Dead.
We can just see it now: Pot! Hippies! Acid! Going barefoot! Free love! The Dead playing "Dark Star" to thousands of pasty white kids waving their arms on Haight street! And trite lines spoken in earnest by pink-eyed protagonists about changing the world, man, while "Truckin'" fades in.
Oh wait -- they'll obviously save "Truckin'" for a montage.
Sorry for the cynicism. We're sure this will be a totally cliche-free retelling of a chapter of American cultural history that's been largely ignored by books, film, television, and residents of the actual city neighborhood itself. We're sure it's not just another way to get a new generation of fans buying Grateful Dead greatest hits compilations.
So far the idea for a Dead music film is in its infancy -- there's no director, script, or studio. But the agent trying to sell the project is Bruce Kaufman, who put together the deal that led to re-recorded Beatles songs shaping the film Across the Universe. He gets these things done. So start brushing up on your tie-dye skills now.