Welcome to another episode of Movie Pitch Monday, I am your host – Edward Mullen. In today’s movie pitch, I’ll be pitching a movie for Guns n’ Roses.
Now, I grew up in the 80s and 90s and am a huge Guns n’ Roses fan. I was always curious as to why there is no Guns n’ Roses movie.
I should preface that while I take a lot of the stories from real life, I am sculpting and structuring it in a way that would make a cohesive and entertaining movie. That means, I have to have some creative liberty to slice and dice, leave out, or embellish certain parts to fit it in two hours.
So without further ado, here is my Guns n’ Roses movie pitch!
The movie opens with a young Axl Rose, known at that time as William Bailey, or Billy Bailey. It’s late 1970’s, Lafayette, Indiana, and so I would want to show what that time period looks like. Billy is from a lower-class family, has a brother and a sister, so we see some of their home life. They live in a tiny house about the size of a trailer home, and there is a lot of abusive – a lot of yelling and violence, but they put on a brave face for their church friends.
Billy sings in his church choir and he thinks it would be funny to amuse his friend, Izzy, and turn a Christian song into a rock and roll song. So while everyone is singing Amazing Grace, Billy steps out and belts some power vocals that we know and love. While it sounds amazing, the church people don’t know what to make of it and Billy gets in trouble. At home, his step father takes a belt to him and begins to beat him. But at 17, Billy is nearly a grown man at this point and so he fights back. He beats the hell out of his step father and then leaves in huff with a backpack full of clothes.
This incident prompts Billy to drop out of high school, and run away with his friend Izzy. Billy is close to eighteen at this point so it was nearly time to leave the nest as it was. I really want to establish early on that he has issues with authority, grew up in a strict religious household with lots of abuse. These experiences make him who he is.
With less than a hundred dollars between them, they take a bus from Lafayette to St. Louis then hitchhike the rest of the way to Los Angeles. They’re young kids who’ve never even left their hometown before, and here they are, all the way across the country on their own with no money, no place to live, and no plan. When they arrive to LA, a homeless man sees the fresh face kids and attempts to scare them, he says, “Do you know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby. You’re going to die!”
Billy and Izzy go to a bar, meet some girls, and end up crashing at their place. In the morning, Billy sees one of the girls has a keyboard. He sits down at it and begins playing, and he’s really good. The girl sits down next to him and they have a little flirtatious moment. Billy begins to sing a ballad to her and she is really impressed.
She says, “You should come out to the bar tonight and watch my friend’s band.” So that night, they all go out and that’s where they meet Tracy Guns.
Billy and Izzy eventually get jobs and move in with Tracy. Billy is a waiter and Izzy gets a job at a bar. On one of Billy’s shifts, Billy gets discovered by a modeling agent and invites Billy to his hotel to take some photos. As it turns out, the guy is gay and is trying to seduce Billy. Billy loses his cool and beats the man up before fleeing.
From that experience, he really opens his eyes to what he came to LA to do, which is to pursue music. He doesn’t want to be a waiter or a model. He changes his name to W. Axl Rose and begins to put a band together. Axl has some iconic tattoos so I think it would be cool to have a scene where he gets some of those tattoos. At this point, he has his own place while Izzy continues to live with Tracy Guns. Izzy joins a band as a guitarist with Tracy called LA Guns.
Meanwhile, Axl puts ads in the newspaper and meets other musicians at clubs. He creates a band called Hollywood Rose. The two bands begin to play gigs, but some of the members in each band aren’t really treating it seriously. For some, it’s more of a hobby.
Izzy and Axl begin to talk with Tracy and they end up combining the remaining members of both bands to create the first iteration of Guns n’ Roses.
The band is practicing a lot and getting the odd gig around town. They get into the party scene, start doing drugs, exploring other temptations such as groupies, and it’s a really good time.
In one situation, Axl leaves a gig and another man calls him pretty and insinuating that he is a woman, which sets Axl off. Axl attacks the guy and beats him to a pulp. The police come and Axl is arrested.
The band is back and Tracy Guns leaves so they put out another ad. This time, a talented musician shows up to their studio. This guy had just moved to LA from Seattle a few months prior and was already in a band, but the band had since broke up. The man was really talented and seemingly could do everything from vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboard. He introduces himself as Duff and everyone really likes him. They offer him spot in the band. Two months later, Duff introduces his former band members Slash and Steven Adler to the group and they too join the band.
The guys get started practicing all day and really honing their sound. They get gigs around town and really hustle to get their name out – making flyers and handing them out.
There are some minor squabbles that arise such as ballads that Axl wants to sing, but Slash isn’t feeling it. Other times people would show up late to rehearsal or be high on drugs.
In one scene, Axl falls asleep on Slashes grandmother’s couch and Slash feels he has to confront the issue. He approaches Axl about it one day while they are driving in a car down Santa Monica Boulevard and Axl gets so offended that he jumps out of the car at 40 miles per hour.
They eventually make up when Duff comes to the band with some good news.
“I got us a gig,” he says. “We’re going on a tour to Seattle.”
They get a van and drive up to Seattle and stop along some other venues along the way. They’re partying, doing copious amounts of drugs, there are girls, fights, debauchery.
At one point, their van gets stolen with all their gear, a promoter rips them off, and they end up hitchhiking back to LA. They are at a low point, until they receive a phone call from Geffen Records.
The band signs a record deal with Geffen in March 1986 and they take some time off playing gigs to record their first album — Appetite for Destruction.
The enthusiasm has returned and they are eager to write some songs, but don’t know where to start. Until one day, Slash was messing around with his guitar and playing some riff. Everyone freaked out and was like, “Play that again.”
Axl began with the first phrase he heard when he arrived in Los Angeles. “You know where you are? You’re in the Jungle, baby. You’re going to die.”
Right then, they wrote their first single, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, which was all about Los Angeles. They then wrote ‘Paradise City’, ‘It’s So Easy’, ‘Nightrain’, ‘Mr. Brownstone’, ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’, ‘Rocket Queen’, and many more, creating one of the best rock and roll albums of all time.
Axl meets an actress named Erin Everly and the two begin dating. I would show some nice moments between them, another side of Axl – he opens up about his childhood abuse and being kidnapped and him and his siblings being sexually abused by their father.
When the album comes out, it immediately explodes. Erin is conflicted because she knows what happens on tours, but Axl must go and follow his dreams.
The band goes on tour, they play sold out shows, party, trash hotels, and get arrested. It’s a wild time. I would also plant more seeds of dissension in the band as money, fame, and egos start to come into the picture. But now they are all rich, living lavish lives, spending money, living in mansions, dating celebrities.
They tour with Iron Maiden and Aerosmith, and the magazine Rolling Stone meets up with the tour to interview Aerosmith, but they end up meeting with Guns n Roses as well. When the issue comes out, it is Guns n’ Rose who make the front cover instead.
Axl also gets married to Erin around that time so I would want to show that. The relationship is volatile and there are many fights. I would like to show Erin saying something that Axl uses in his song November Rain, such as, ‘Nothin’ lasts forever and we both know hearts can change.’
To speed the story along, I would do a montage showing their lives on tour, photo shoots, shooting music videos, partying. I basically want the final act to build up to the Use You Illusions Tour. I would show them writing, rehearsing, fighting as tensions flare up.
Steve Adler was doing so much drugs that he would pass out in recording sessions, not show up, lie about doing drugs. They finish the album, but fire Steve. Steve sues them, they settle for a couple million dollars, and put Matt on drums and Dizzy Reid on keys.
The double album comes out and it tops the charts — holding both spots 1 and 2 on Billboard 100. They then spend a ton of money on three music videos before the Use Your Illusion Tour — November Rain, Estranged, and Don’t Cry.
Axl and Erin’s marriage dissolves as the pressure of dating a rock star becomes too much for her to handle.
In the end of the movie, I would show some behind the scenes of the band on tour, then taking the stage, rocking out and end it with a heart felt performance of November Rain.
Fade to black. Credits.
- My Back to the Future 4 Pitch
- My A Quieter Place Pitch
- My Superman Pitch
- My Socrates Pitch
- My Mystery Pitch
- My Miles Morales Pitch
- My Sly Pitch
- My Nightwing Pitch
- My Avatar 2 Pitch
- My Mask Pitch
- My Wu Tang Pitch
- My Iron Fist Pitch
- My Joe Rogan Animated Series Pitch
- My Marvelous Ones Pitch
- My The Art of the Hustle Pitch