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Jon M. Chu Signs on to Direct Film about Journey Singer Arnel Pineda

Photo of Arnel Pineda by Phey Palma via Flickr Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).

Views From The Edge

Journey’s Arnel Pineda’s incredible life story—from being homeless in Manila, to getting discovered on YouTube, to becoming lead singer for one of the world’s top musical groups—has all the ingredients of a good movie. That’s what Warner Bros. and Jon M. Chu think, too.

Chu, the director of Crazy Rich Asians, has agreed to direct a movie of the Filipino singer’s remarkable rags-to-riches story.

“The success of Crazy Rich Asians has blown my mind and set me on a path to champion more unique inspirational stories that represent new perspectives from all around the world,” Chu said in a statement to Deadline.

“This story in particular has been on my mind since I first read about it years ago. A true fairy tale and triumph of the human spirit. An unlikely hero, an undeniable talent, the power of music and a worldwide stage (literally) has all the ingredients I love about movies.”

As the well-known story goes, Neal Schon, co-founder of Journey, who was looking for a singer to replace original singer Steve Perry, “discovered” Pineda on YouTube. Pineda was able to sound exactly like Perry, down to the soaring vocals Perry was known for in the group’s hits, Don’t Stop Believin’, Faithfully, and Lights. Schon flew to Manila to meet Pineda and brought the Filipino singer to San Francisco where the band was based. Pineda’s addition gave the band new life to their current popularity.

Warner Bros., which also was behind Crazy Rich Asians, is negotiating to license the original Journey songs. According to CelebrityAccess, the Hollywood studio has acquired the rights to the 2012 film Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, which documented Pineda’s rise:

The studio is searching for a screenplay writer for the proposed film. It will be a few years before the movie hits the theaters since Chu is already committed for a number of films, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical In the Heights and China Rich Girlfriend, the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians.

“I have been a fan of Journey’s music since I can remember,” said Chu, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area listening to Journey songs. “I am excited to be bringing the audience along on this incredible story with my partners at Warner Bros. who have been a leading champion of diverse voices in front and behind the camera.”

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