Focus Features has confirmed the in-demand star will portray Elton John and said it will distribute Rocket Pictures and Icon/AI Film’s biopic in the US after incoming CEO Peter Schelssel brought it over from FilmDistrict.

Good Universe holds international rights and will commence pre-sales at the AFM next month.

John will re-record many of his hits to accompany the musical project, scheduled to shoot in autumn 2014.

Michael Gracey will direct from a screenplay by Lee Hall and his credits include Fox’s upcoming Hugh Jackman project The Greatest Showman On Earth.

Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish of Rocket Pictures are producing alongside Lawrence Bender on behalf of AI Film, the production and financing company that ensued from the acquisition of Icon by Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries.

John and Blavatnik serve as executive producers along with AI Film CEO Aviv Giladi and Schlessel. UTA Independent Film Group arranged financing for the project and negotiated the sale to FilmDistrict. 

“Tom is a stellar talent who will add extraordinary depth and nuance in bringing Elton’s story to life,” said Shaw. “We are excited to have such a gifted actor on board, and equally excited to be in the hands of Peter Schlessel and the entire Focus Features team.”

“Tom is quickly becoming known as one of the world’s most versatile actors, and like others at the top of their craft, he has proven his ability to transform himself completely into the character or subject found in the material,” said Schlessel.

“We are confident that Tom will embody the physicality and spirit of Sir Elton. This, in conjunction with the creative team led by Michael and Rocket Pictures, will provide the foundation for something that will be a unique cinematic event.”