Why Motley Crue’s ‘The Dirt’ Movie Took 13 Years to Make
On March 22, the long-awaited Motley Crue biopic The Dirt will finally be released. The occasion will bring to completion a process that has been in the making for more than a decade.
The film’s history begins with a book, the 2001 autobiography The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band. Written collaboratively by all members of the band - along with New York Times writer Neil Strauss - the tell-all publication quickly became a bestseller.
In 2006, film adaptation rights to the book were purchased by Paramount Pictures and MTV Films. At one point, Academy Award nominated director David Fincher was slated to helm the film, however his connection to the project was short lived. Eventually, Borat director Larry Charles signed on to direct. Despite this initial momentum, production on the movie stalled in 2008. During an interview with Reuters at the time, Nikki Sixx vented his frustration with their studio partners.
"We're trying to get them out of the way to make this movie that should have been made a long time ago,” the Motley Crue bassist explained. “MTV has become bogged down in its own way. It's a channel that used to be hip and has now actually become unhip. We signed with them because we believed they were right, but they haven't come to the table. We need to find the right partner. They are not the right partner."
The behind-the-scenes struggles caused singer Vince Neil to become disinterested in the project: "I just don’t know anything about it. If it comes out, great, if it doesn’t come out. I really don’t care.”
MTV and Paramount would eventually drop The Dirt. It wouldn’t be until November 2013 that the film would again pick up steam. Jeff Tremaine of Jackass fame joined the project, admitting to Deadline that he had been eyeing the film for some time. “I’ve been offered a lot of scripts but The Dirt is something I pursued with everything I had. I’ve wanted to make this going back to 2001.” The director further divulged his desire to head-up the film. “When this project became available, I put everything I had into chasing it and convincing everyone that I am the right guy for it. I really feel I am.”
In January 2015, Focus Features picked up rights to the film. At one point, Neil believed The Dirt would hit movie screens in 2016. Still, development moved at a snail’s pace. That is until March 2017, when Netflix bought worldwide rights. The streaming giant’s involvement finally got production fast-tracked. Casting announcements soon followed, with Machine Gun Kelly, Douglas Booth, Iwan Rheon and Daniel Webber signing on to play the Crue bandmates.
Filming began in February 2018, though it was briefly halted when a crew member had to be rushed to the hospital after being electrocuted. The production spent two months shooting in Louisiana, with the real life Motley Crue members occasionally visiting the set.
After a 19-second teaser initially grabbed people's interest, the world got its first real glimpse of The Dirt on Feb. 19, 2019, when Netflix released the official trailer for the film. Now, almost 18 years after their autobiography of the same name was originally released, it appears that Motley Crue's story is finally ready for the spotlight.