The Idea of You: Are fictional boy band August Moon based on One Direction?

If you look at the fictional pop group in new film The Idea of You, they might remind you of one of the world's biggest boy bands.

In fact, they might sound a little familiar too.

Fictional band August Moon's lead single is catchy, fun and poppy - and more than slightly reminiscent of One Direction's What Makes You Beautiful.

But it's not plagiarism. It sounds similar because it's been produced by the same duo, Savan Kotecha and Carl Falk.

One Direction on stage in 2011
The creators say One Direction were just one of several inspirations [Getty Images]

Kotecha had his big career break working on The X Factor, and was the one of the people responsible for What Makes You Beautiful, one of the biggest pop songs of the 2010s.

He then went on to write for some of the world's other biggest artists, including Ariana Grande and The Weeknd.

But for the past few years, he's been working in film, with credits including the 2019 Charlie's Angels reboot and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.

So he's come full circle by working on a film about boy bands.

Savan Kotecha attends the Prime Video's "The Idea Of You" New York premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 29, 2024 in New York City.
Savan Kotecha attended the film's premiere earlier this week [Getty Images]

Kotecha says he initially agreed to be on the movie because he loves rom-coms.

And as he's worked with acts like Westlife and One Direction, he was able to share his opinions about the boy band experience with the film's production team.

"We spoke a little bit about the characters," Kotecha says, speaking from LA before a writing session. "They wanted to know a lot about what these characters would be going through.

"Even before One Direction, I've done this so much with Westlife and a bunch of other boy bands.

"So I gave my two cents of what I felt the character would be going through, and what was authentic and what wasn't authentic to the experience, at least from my point of view."

Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine
Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine star in the film [Getty Images]

But, despite the comparisons with 1D, the songwriter says it was only after August Moon's song came out that he recognised the similarities.

"It sounds so dumb and naïve of me," he said. "But I didn't think about it.

"We were like, 'Oh, this feels very 1975-ish' and then as soon as it was released, I started seeing people saying that [it was like What Makes You Beautiful]. I was like, 'Oh, yeah, of course'."

The film is based on a 2017 book of the same name by Robinne Lee.

It stars Anne Hathaway as Solène, a 40-year-old single mum who falls for lead singer Hayes Campbell, played by Nicholas Galitzine, after they meet at the Coachella festival.

It's a kind of forbidden romance, as Solène's teenage daughter is there to see August Moon, the band Hayes is in.

Some publications, including GQ, have suggested the film is essentially based on Harry Styles fanfiction.

But when the author was asked by Vogue in 2020 if The Idea of You was based on Styles, she said the One Direction singer was only one of her inspirations, along with a bit of Prince Harry and Eddie Redmayne.

Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway speak onstage at "The Idea Of You" World Premiere during SXSW at The Paramount Theater on March 16, 2024 in Austin, Texas.
Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway spoke at the film's premiere at SXSW in March in Texas [Getty Images]

Despite the similarities, Kotecha maintains August Moon weren't set up to copy One Direction.

"Everyone's going to think that we're making this up, but other than the fact that they're boy bands, we didn't really talk about One Direction at all in that process," he says.

"I think the comparison has become a social media thing more than like a real comparison when we were making it.

"And even talking to the lead actor Nicholas, that wasn't really a part of the conversation."

'Not a comparison I've made'

That's something Galitzine himself has repeated, telling Variety he wasn't seeking inspiration from Styles.

"It's funny because it's not a comparison I've ever made," he said. "But people really like to make it.

"Hayes Campbell, the man I'm playing, is a very different character, and we want him to exist in his own world."

Occasionally posting covers on social media with a guitar, it's perhaps not surprising that Galitzine - who's previously appeared in Red, White & Royal Blue - was cast as the boy band's lead singer.

And Kotecha says he's got "real singing chops".

"He's obviously such a great actor, but I was really impressed with how good a singer he is," he adds.

"You'll see when you watch the movie and hear the rest of the songs, he's got a dynamic voice and can do a lot of different things with it."

Without spoiling it too much, Kotecha says the film's music follows the typical path of a boy band - early pop domination, then going a bit edgier, and solo careers.

"It was really thought through and all the music represents a trajectory of the boy band - like the first very poppy single, then up to the guy going solo," he says.

And while they might have been able to imagine a boy band for the big screen, Kotecha jokes there isn't a magic recipe for a pop group's success in real life.

"It's lightning in a bottle," he says. "They have to be charismatic, talented kids, and they have to have chemistry together. I don't think you can ever teach that.

"And then obviously, great songs too - and hopefully we did that with August Moon.

"But if it was something that was just a formula, we would do it all day every day."