Universal Pictures’ new romantic comedy “Last Christmas” features the music of George Michael, including the bittersweet holiday classic of the film’s title. The film will also premiere brand new unreleased material by the legendary Grammy-winning artist, who sold more than 115 million albums and recorded 10 No. 1 singles over the course of his iconic career.
Approximately 10 years ago, producer David Livingstone began the development of a romantic comedy based on George Michael’s song “Last Christmas.” “It is played on repeat absolutely every year,” Livingstone says, “in every store—on every radio station—again and again. I thought it would be marvelous to turn that into a movie.”
In turn, the producer would bring the premise to the legendary songwriter and performer Michael, who was interested in the project…on the proviso that multihyphenate Emma Thompson would become involved in its development and execution. Livingstone reached out to the Oscar® winner and asked if she would be interested in penning the script based on the lyrics of Andrew Ridgeley and Michael’s smash.
Thompson admits that she wasn’t sure how big of a story Livingstone’s idea was. “At first, I told him I’d think about it,” Thompson says. “I kept thinking about the song, how I’ve never written a proper romantic comedy, and how I could interpret this.”
Early on, during Thompson’s conversations with George Michael, they discussed what she was considering and where she hoped to go with his classic music as inspiration. “I went and talked to George about it, and I had a wonderful afternoon with him; this was at least two years before he died,” Thompson says. “He was a very kind man who loved the idea of the story…and elements of it that were socially conscious because he was always very involved in that. I loved him, and I thought I’d love to work with him and be part of this.”
During the development of the screenplay, on Christmas Day 2016, Michael tragically died. Not only was the world devastated to lose such an epic voice, but the creative team developing “Last Christmas” also wondered if the premise was meant to ever come to fruition. “George knew the outline for the story, but he never had the opportunity to read the script,” Livingstone says. “It felt like we had something that was quite magical, but we had nowhere to go with it—until one day Greg, Emma’s other half, bumped into David Austin, George’s friend and manager. David reignited the project. We set up a meeting with Emma, and he played us some new music from George that no one had ever heard. It was incredibly exciting; it gave us all impetus. We had a great script, and it was something that honored him.”
Livingstone was pleased to see that an idea he’d hatched so long ago was finally starting to see the light, in an elevated way he never could have fathomed. “This is a romantic comedy, but it’s not just that,” Livingstone says. “There’s more beneath the surface and behind the twinkly lights. Audiences will feel completely entranced, recognizing this is a bigger story than what it seems.”
In Philippine cinemas on November 27, “Last Christmas” is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. Use the hashtag #LASTCHRISTMAS.