Bono Envy And The Box Office

Editor’s Note: In addition to making its rounds on DVD, online, and on pay-per-view TV, the new film Killing Bono, based in part on the writing of Neil McCormick, is enjoying a limited US theatrical release. You can check your local listings for more details.

Don’t talk about Rattle and Hum. Don’t talk about your Spidey sense and SciFi musicals. The history of our Bono and clear success at movie or theatre box offices are a mixed bag.

Unrivaled at selling out rock concerts? Yes. Concert DVDs doing well in the 2000s? Yes. But this doesn’t mean that a movie that frames you as a minor character will be a big hit.

Killing Bono bases itself on the frustrated truth of growing up in the shadow of giants. From a plot made with a jolt of rockstar-caliber jealousy, Killing Bono tries to be many things to different people, but a typically nerdy rock biopic for the hardcore U2 fans it’s not. Even though the work of Neil McCormick as journalist and tweeter are well-loved among U2 fans, many of us are not sure what to make of Killing Bono.

The early parts of the flick feature all the members of U2 as characters, with some choice footage from their roots at school, complete with (formerly known as) The Hype’s first gig and a hilarious scene when when Paul and Dave adopt their stage names at the same time they drop “The Hype” for the hype-yet-to -come in U2. But does this film work as an Irish Almost Famous? Is this movie a faithful rendering of McCormick’s prose?

The American drop of Killing Bono coincides with the epic onslaught of Achtung Baby rerelease options. Was this intentional? Surely, this saturated market manages to appease the post-360-tour blues among fans willing to pay to stay engaged with their favorite band.

But pit the mixed-up comedy mostly-about-the-band’s-mates against the garden harvest of DVDs and documentaries, and most U2 fans are going to be perfectly pleased to dig deeper into their new Uber and Super box sets and may end up ignoring Killing Bono. Maybe we prefer Bono admiration to Bono envy.  –Andrew William Smith, Editor