Everything You Need to Know About Back to Black, the Upcoming Amy Winehouse Biopic

Back to Black has found its star.

After months of rumors, Deadline confirmed in January 2023 that Marisa Abela would portray Amy Winehouse in the upcoming biopic about the late British vocal sensation. Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy, Fifty Shades of Grey) is directing the film, which Focus Features and Monumental Picture have teamed up to produce. Abela—breakout star of HBO’s Industry—reportedly “blew away execs” and Taylor-Johnson with her audition for the highly coveted role.

Winehouse, who died at age 27 in 2011, is considered a defining voice of the early 21st century. Her standout second album, Back to Black, earned her a then-record-breaking five Grammy Awards in 2008, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The latter award was for her biggest hit, “Rehab,” but she also drew praise for songs such as “You Know I’m No Good” and DJ Mark Ronson’s “Valerie.” Her outstanding musical contributions often seemed to be inextricably entwined with her struggles with addiction and tumultuous relationships (notably with fellow British musician and husband Blake Fielder-Civil). According to Deadline, the biopic will focus on “Amy’s genius, creativity, and honesty,” which “infused everything she did.”

In a statement, Taylor-Johnson noted that both she and Winehouse had lived in the boho London borough of Camden Town. “I got a job at the legendary Koko Club, and I can still breathe every market stall, vintage shop, and street. A few years later, Amy wrote her searingly honest songs whilst living in Camden. Like with me, it became part of her DNA,” the director said. “I first saw her perform at a talent show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho, and it was immediately obvious she wasn’t just ‘talent’—she was genius. As a filmmaker you can’t really ask for more.”

The singer’s parents, Mitch and Janis Winehouse—who are the executors of her estate—shared their support for the film in a joint statement, writing: “We are thrilled that StudioCanal, Focus Features, and Monumental are making this movie celebrating our daughter Amy’s extraordinary music legacy and showcasing her talent in the way that it deserves.”

Below is everything we know so far about Back to Black.

What is Back to Black about?

Courtesy of Dean Rogers/Focus Features

The film will center on the life of late British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. One of the biggest singers ever to come out of the United Kingdom, Winehouse changed the landscape of pop, jazz, and R&B at the height of her fame—despite releasing only two albums, 2003’s Frank and 2006’s Back to Black. She famously struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse, and saddened the world with her early passing at the age of 27 in 2011. Sam Taylor-Johnson’s film will explore Winehouse’s creative process as she records her landmark albums, as well as the personal struggles that ultimately led to her demise. A full trailer for the film was released on February 2.

When will Back to Black be released?

The film will be released in theaters May 17, 2024.

marisa abela back to black amy winehouse

© Focus Features

Who are the stars?

Industry’s Marisa Abela will star as Winehouse, with Skins’ Jack O’Connell portraying her boyfriend and husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. Eddie Marsan and Lesley Manville will appears as the singer’s parents, Mitch and Cynthia Winehouse.

Abela confirmed the news of her casting on Instagram back in January 2023, sharing a photo of herself next to a mural of Winehouse in London, as well as other pics of herself in character for the role.

“‘And for London. This is for London. Cause Camden Town ain’t burnin down’ — I love you, Amy ❤️,” she captioned her post.

Does Marisa Abela sing in the film?

marisa abela stars as amy winehouse in director sam taylor johnson's back to black, a focus features release credit  courtesy of dean rogersfocus features

Courtesy of Dean Rogers/Focus Features

Yes. The actor revealed on Instagram that she had worked with a vocal coach to master Winehouse’s signature raspy, deep vocals, and said she does perform live in the film.

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Bianca Betancourt is the culture editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com, where she covers all things film, TV, music, and more. When she’s not writing, she loves impulsively baking a batch of cookies, re-listening to the same early-2000s pop playlist, and stalking Mariah Carey’s Twitter feed.