Prince Almost Makes Another Movie Soundtrack: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Prince released five movie soundtracks during his life – Purple Rain, Parade, Batman, Graffiti Bridge, and Girl 6. There was almost a sixth. The 1994 Albert Brooks film I'll Do Anything was originally shot as a big-screen musical, featuring eight songs written by Prince but sung by the film's actors – including Brooks, Nick Nolte and Julie Kavner.
Right now, you're wondering what Nick Nolte singing a Prince song sounds like, right? "They were more spoken. He sort of appeared in Prince songs," Brooks said of Nolte's musical performances in a 2016 interview with Metro. "He didn’t really sing."
Logically, according to Prince Vault, an accompanying soundtrack was part of the plan. However, a disastrous first test screening caused Brooks and Columbia Pictures to drastically re-cut the movie. That included the removal of all of Prince's songs. "At the screening there were walk-outs, but for the first 20 minutes we were a smash. So, it was really weird," Brooks recalled. "I remember going back to the people I worked with and apologizing, then getting to work."
At the time of the film's release, Brooks insisted that the I'll Do Anything's final, non-musical form was the shape it was destined to take. "I thought music would articulate that which you couldn't legitimately articulate in dialogue ...[but] the music broke the sense of reality instead of enhancing it," he told the New York Times. "I lost sight of my goals, and then I got them back, for which I'm really grateful."
Five years after the release of the movie, several of Prince's versions of the songs intended for I'll Do Anything were released as part of his contractually-obligated final album for Warner Brothers, The Vault ... Old Friends 4 Sale.
"Don't look now but here comes another heartbreak / Benefit of the doubt I'll give it, control of my life I've gotta take / Cause I'm alive and that's reason enough for me to bust a smile / I've arrived and now I want to stay for a little while."
While I'll Do Anything received mixed-to-positive feedback from critics – including a three-star review from Roger Ebert – it bombed at the box office, reportedly earning back only one-quarter of its $40 million production budget.
So, is there any chance we'll ever get to see the original musical version of I'll Do Anything, and hear Prince's musical contributions to the film? Apparently not. "I wanted to do a documentary about that, show the people who had lived through a really rough experience, and then say, 'Here’s the movie they saw that night,'" Brooks told Metro. "But I couldn’t get the music rights."