Music biopics often seem ubiquitous, but it's not always easy to drum up movies about famous tune-smiths.

Take Don Cheadle's in-the-making movie about the jazz trumpet player and composer Miles Davis, which he's been trying to get started for years. On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Cheadle, who is directing the film, will also star in it as Davis, the pioneer behind such classic albums as "Kind of Blue" and "In a Silent Way." 

This comes as a coterie of other movies about high-profile musicians are in various stages of development, including an as-yet unnamed project about Janis Joplin and the upcoming "Get on Up," chronicling the life of James Brown.

PHOTOS: Upcoming and notable music biopics

But music movies can flounder in early stages of development for years as the filmmakers try to deal with their subjects' estates and acquire music rights. Though there are many attempts in progress, there hasn't yet been a theatrically released biopic of Elvis Presley, and the upcoming Jimi Hendrix movie can't use the guitar hero's actual songs, so its star Andre 3000 is covering other musician's works instead.

Despite all the hype behind biopics, their success is far from guaranteed. The genre hasn't produced a major box office triumph since "Walk the Line" (about Johnny Cash) in 2005, the year after "Ray" (about soul singer Ray Charles) came out. But they do tend to grab the Academy Awards' attention.

However, the movies can be boosters for the artists' catalog. VH1's recent made-for-TV feature on the saga of TLC propelled sales of the R&B group's greatest hits album "20."  

Click through our photo gallery for details on some of the biopics of the past, present and future.  


“Kill the Trumpet Player” (Miles Davis)

It looks like Don Cheadle will direct himself in the titular role in this long-gestating project that will focus on jazz trumpet player Davis' return out of retirement from music in 1979. Production is supposed to start in June.

SNEAKS: Movie trailers, full coverage

Untitled Janis Joplin movie

After nearly a decade of speculation and false starts, the long-awaited Janis Joplin film may be beginning to materialize. Lee Daniels, of "The Butler," is set to direct, and he's tapped Amy Adams

“All is By My Side” (Jimi Hendrix)

Andre Benjamin (a.k.a. Andre 3000, from the hip-hop duo Outkast) is playing Hendrix in this film, but he won't be singing or playing the guitar legend's music, because the filmmakers couldn't get the rights. Benjamin will instead cover songs by the likes of the Beatles and Muddy Waters.  

“Get on Up” (James Brown)

Set for release in 2014, this chronicle of the Godfather of Soul stars Chadwick Boseman, who made a splash as Jackie Robinson in "42." Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis are also on board. The movie has been in the works since before the famously combative singer died in 2006. It begins filming this fall.  

Untitled Kurt Cobain project

Not related to the 2005 Gus Van Sant movie "Last Days," which technically wasn't a biopic, though its protagonist closely resembled Cobain. The director for the current project is Brett Morgen, who directed "The Kid Stays in the Picture," a documentary about movie producer Robert Evans.