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Hollywood Reporter: “‘The Apollo’: Film Review | Tribeca 2019”

The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival opens with Roger Ross Williams’ moving ode to the historic Harlem theater.

Even non-Manhattanites have heard, likely due to its famed amateur night, of the Harlem institution known as the Apollo Theater. This decades-long gathering place for an African-American community that often was, and still very much is, under siege gets a splendid tribute in Roger Ross Williams’ 2019 Tribeca Film Festival opener, and HBO-bound feature, The Apollo.

Fittingly, the movie world-premiered in the very venue it was honoring, and Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro used the opportunity to take a few swipes at the racist dog-whistling of a certain commander-in-chief. “Not in this house!” he thundered, while conspicuously keeping the bad-behaved twit in question unmentioned. The audience, wildly applauding, knew exactly who he meant.

As Williams’ film goes on to show, displays of both approbation and reproach are common at The Apollo. A performer quickly knows if they’ve got the masses (1,506 patrons at full capacity) on their side, and among the archival treasures here is a video of 13-year-old Lauryn Hill not quite blowing the crowd away. There’s an element of danger to taking that stage, something not necessarily relieved by rubbing the “Tree of Hope” stump, the remains of a “good luck” elm chopped down in 1934 (the year the theater first opened its doors to black spectators) that sits just by the wings.

But there are innumerable triumphs as well, which many interviewees recall with a dazed gleam in their eye. Leslie Uggams, who first graced the Apollo stage as a 9-year-old, reminisces about opening for Louis Armstrong. Jamie Foxx talks about comics like Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, who told harsh truths (about poverty and police brutality, among other oppressions) in ways that would have Apollo attendees doubled over with laughter.

There’s some amazing footage of an older Billie Holiday breathing fiery life into “Strange Fruit,” which she performed at the theater in its early days against the counsel of the powers-that-be, as well as an early Motown gathering that features a coterie of grand-talents-in-the-making such as Diana Ross and the Supremes and a 12-year-old Stevie Wonder. And no Apollo retrospective would be complete without fervent consecrations of the Godfather and the Queen of Soul, James Brown and Aretha Franklin, each of whom raised their audiences’ spirits in revolutionary ways.

The film isn’t just enshrining the Apollo’s history, however. Williams is as concerned with the theater’s future, with what its place is in a world that is perhaps better than it was, but remains in so many ways (and to African-Americans in particular) emphatically terrible. The Apollo eavesdrops on a few soul-searching board meetings chaired by CEO Janelle Procope and her team (the closest the doc gets to Frederick Wiseman-esque vérité). It also observes rehearsals for and the premiere performance of a star-studded stage adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s epistolary polemic Between the World and Me. Angela Bassett and Common absolutely kill their contributions.

In these scenes, Williams seems to be pondering if the Apollo — which survived a bankruptcy-incited closure in the ’70s, and is now a federal and city landmark run by a State of New York non-profit — can remain an indefinitely vital house of congregation and inspiration. Well, who can speak to eternity? But the fact that the theater has stood steadfast among so much change (good, ill and indifferent) suggests it will at the least endure. And The Apollo goes a long way to ensuring that the memories created in this one-of-a-kind space will be neither fleeting nor forgotten.

Director: Roger Ross Williams
Producers: Lisa Cortes, Nigel Sinclair, Jeanne Elfant Festa, Cassidy Hartmann, Roger Ross Williams
Screenwriters: Cassidy Hartmann, Jean Tsien
Cinematographer: Michael Dwyer
Editors: Jean Tsien, John S. Fisher
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Gala)

98 minutes

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20 Tribeca Film Festival Movies We’re Most Excited About

The 18th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival is set to take over downtown Manhattan on April 24 through May 5, and the 100-plus movies that will be showcased at the annual affair tackle a variety of genres and topics.

From much-anticipated documentaries to highly advertised feature films dealing with themes that have resonated within society both politically and culturally throughout the year, the 2019 lineup looks as stellar as ever.

Although there is still much ground to cover, the changing landscape of the industry makes itself apparent more than ever today: 40% of the feature films showcased are directed by women, 29% by people of color and 13% by LGBTQIA. 

Here are the 20 productions we’re most excited to catch:

1. The Apollo

Oscar winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams is behind this documentary that takes a deeper look at the history of the iconic venue in New York City, which will host the world-premiere of the screening and kick off the year’s festival. The film also explores the first stage production of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me.

2. The Quiet One

The film focuses on artist and original bassist for the Rolling Stones Bill Wyman, dubbed a “man of few words.” Expect to take a peek behind his personal archives, filled with photographs, memorabilia and unseen footage, in addition to interviews with family and friends.

3. A Day in the Life of America

Actor Jared Leto puts on his director hat for this documentary that features footage from all 50 American states over the Fourth of July, creating an all-encompassing view of the country.

4. Georgetown

Christoph Waltz’s directorial debut centers around Ulrich Mott, an “eccentric social climber” that “throws lavish parties with his much-older wife.” The film stars the director himself alongside Vanessa Redgrave, who plays Waltz’s wife, and Annette Bening, his wife’s daughter.

5. Dreamland

Margot Robbie plays Allison Wells, a fugitive bank robber with a bounty on her head. Finn Cole sees her capture and the money he’d receive from that bounty as the only way to save his family’s farm, which is on the brink of foreclosure.

6. American Woman

This fictional drama is inspired by the much-chronicled 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patricia Hearst, who was 19 years old when taken from her apartment in Berkeley, California and beaten by an urban guerilla group called the Symbionese Liberation Army. Mad Men producer Semi Chellas’ directorial debut is a fictionalized retelling of Hearst’s time in hiding.

7. Only

Freida Pinto and Leslie Odom Jr. star in this post-apocalyptic love story about a mysterious plague that only affects females.

8. Framing John DeLorean

Framing John DeLorean focuses on the infamous auto executive whose company crashed in the ’80s following corruption- and drug-related charges. Alec Baldwin stars as the titular character.

9. Come to Daddy

Elijah Wood is the star of this thriller: after a suicide attempt and heavy drug usage, he ventures out to his estranged father’s waterfront home in the hopes of  reconnecting with him. But, upon his arrival, he notices strange things happening. 

10. Standing Up, Falling Down

Ben Schwartz and Billy Crystal play two parts of an unlikely friendship between a stand-up comedian and a dermatologist in Long Island in this comedy directed by Matt Ratner.

11. Ask Doctor Ruth

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, now 90, is the subject of this documentary by Ryan White exploring her career as a celebrity sex therapist and, even more interestingly, her life as a Holocaust survivor. 

12. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Following Netflix’s successful documentary about serial killer Ted Bundy, this new film chronicles Bundy’s crimes from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend Liz (Lily Collins). Zac Efron stars as Bundy himself.

13. I Want My MTV

Explore the launch and early days of the culture-defining, music-centric network MTV in this documentary by Tyler Meason and Patrick Waldrop. Executives, musicians and veejays who were part of the 1981 launch and beyond appear on-camera for interviews.

14. The Kill Team

An unlikely duo, Alexander Skarsgård and Nat Wolff, play American soldiers in Afghanistan in this true crime thriller directed by Dan Krauss.

15. Luce

In Luce, Octavia Spencer plays an “overbearing teacher” whose perspective on Luce, one of his students, is shattered after an “unsettling essay” that he pens. Tim Roth and Naomi Watts play Luce’s adoptive parents.

16. Other Music

Now permanently closed, Other Music was a record store in New York’s West Village that, for 20 years, also functioned as a cultural and neighborhood staple. This documentary chronicles its history by featuring bands the likes of the Strokes, Vampire Weekend and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

17. Yesterday

Already heavily marketed and picked up for distribution by Universal Pictures,  Yesterday imagines a world with no Beatles. Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle directs Himesh Patel as a struggling singer-songwriter in England who appropriates Beatles’ songs when nobody else knows about their existence. The result? Life-shattering fame, of course.

18. Safe Spaces

Adjunct professor Josh (Justin Long) is dealing with a budding romance, a class of college students and his grandmother’s illness in this comedy also starring Fran Drescher and Richard Schiff.

19. After Parkland

Spend 90 minutes witnessing the immediate aftermath of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that shook the country to its core. The documentary features footage with both students and their parents.

20. Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston

Learn about the rise and fall of Halston, dubbed America’s “first celebrity designer” and a staple of the city’s nightlife scene. Billy Joel, Anjelica Huston, Diane von Furstenberg and Liza Minnelli are just some of the many people featured in interviews.

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Nigel Sinclair, Celine Rattray, Thomas Benski among speakers at Winston Baker NYC forum

Nigel Sinclair, Celine Rattray and Thomas Benski are among speakers scheduled to attend the 11th annual Winston Baker TV & Film Finance Forum in New York on April 24 in association with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

The event will cover financial and creative perspectives in entertainment and address growth and innovation strategies for film and television investors, operators and content creators in an evolving marketplace.

Strategy executives from Viacom, Vine Alternative Investments, Alcon Media Group and Guggenheim Securities will speak on the state of the market, M&A strategies, and what buyers want.

Sinclair is the co-founder and co-head with Guy East of White Horse Pictures and his producer and executive producer credits include RushEnd Of WatchThe Way Back, Tribeca Film Festival opening night premiere The Apollo, and a host of music documentaries on performers ranging from The Beatles to the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Rattray partners with Trudie Styler at New York-based Maven Pictures and has produced SkinThe Kindergarten TeacherThe Kids Are All RightNovitiate and the upcoming Sylvia Plath adaptation The Bell Jar. She served as executive producer on American Honey.

Pulse Films CEO and co-founder Benksi produced among others American Honey and the upcoming drama Mughal Mowgli and documentary XY Chelsea. His executive producer credits include The Witchand Skate Kitchen.

This year’s speaker roster includes Lilly Burns of Jax Media, Jennifer Cron of Eko, Brian Hunt of Believe Entertainment Group, Rafael Marmor of Delirio Films, and Dia Simms of Combs Enterprises.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman, shared with Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, and Armando Bo) will address storytelling strategies from conception through production, while John Sloss and distribution expert Lia Buman will share insider tips on finding success in the film business.

The event will take place at the Dream Downtown Hotel in New York City. For further information click here.

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White Horse Pictures Promotes Head Of Production Nicholas Ferrall To President

LA-based production firm White Horse Pictures (The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years) has named current head of production Nicholas Ferrall to the newly created role of company president with immediate effect.

Ferrall will oversee the firm’s slate of film and TV projects through development, production and distribution and will produce specific projects with White Horse Executive Chairmen Nigel Sinclair and Guy East and fellow partners Jeanne Elfant Festa and Cassidy Hartmann.

Ferrall is currently producing feature horror film Queen Mary to be directed by Gary Shore. Pic is also being produced with Brett Tomberlin with Rocket Science repping world sales. He is serving as executive producer on the company’s upcoming slate of docs including The Apollo helmed by Roger Ross Williams; an authorized documentary about The Bee Gees, directed by Frank Marshall; and Ron Howard’s Pavarotti, based on the life of the acclaimed tenor.

White Horse Pictures’ Sinclair and East said, “As White Horse goes into the next phase of its growth, we are so fortunate to have Nicholas Ferrall available to lead the company as president and supported by our extraordinary partners Jeanne Elfant Festa and Cassidy Hartmann. Guy and I are excited to keep working with this stellar team to create more great programming.”

Prior to joining White Horse in 2014, Ferrall worked at Sinclair’s Spitfire Pictures as vice president of documentary features. Before that he was at Strike Entertainment.

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THE 2019 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL SET TO OPEN WITH WORLD PREMIERE OF HBO’S NEW DOCUMENTARY THE APOLLO

Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams’ new film celebrates the historic New York City cultural landmark where musical legends were made.

 

The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, will open its 18th edition with the world premiere of director Roger Ross Williams and HBO’s new documentary film The Apollo. Helmed by the Oscar and Emmy-winning Williams (Music by Prudence; Life, Animated), The Apollo chronicles the unique history and contemporary legacy of the New York City landmark, the Apollo Theater. The film will debut at the iconic theater itself on Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 and later this year on HBO. The feature-length documentary weaves together archival footage, music, comedy, and dance performances, and behind-the-scenes moments with the team that makes the theater run.

The Apollo features interviews with artists like Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx. The film is produced by Lisa Cortés (Precious), White Horses Pictures’ Nigel Sinclair (George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Undefeated), Jeanne Elfant Festa (Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, Pavarotti), Cassidy Hartmann (The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, Pavarotti), and Williams. The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival runs April 24th through May 5th.

The documentary covers the rich history of the storied performance space over its 85 years and follows a new production of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me as it comes to the theater’s grand stage. The creation of this vibrant multi-media stage show frames the way in which The Apollo explores the current struggle of black lives in America, the role that art plays in that struggle, and the broad range of African-American achievement that the Apollo Theater represents.

The Apollo Theater is internationally renowned for having influenced American and pop culture more than any other entertainment venue. The space has created opportunities for new talent to be seen and has served as a launchpad for a myriad of artists, including Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin (picture below backstage at the Apollo), Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Luther Vandross, Dave Chappelle, Lauryn Hill, Jimi Hendrix, and more.

“We’re excited to finally be going uptown to play the Apollo,” said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and CEO of the Tribeca Film Festival. “The Apollo gives audiences an inside look at the major role this institution has played for the past 85 years. It’s seen the emergence of everything from jazz to R&B to soul and gospel — all quintessential American music genres — and this is the time to remind people of our nation’s rich history. ”

The Apollo is about so much more than just music, it’s about how we used music and art to lift ourselves out of oppression,” commented Williams. “The story of the Apollo is the story of the evolution of black American identity and how it grew to become the defining cultural movement of our time. I was fortunate to make my first film with HBO and I am thrilled to be coming back home with The Apollo. Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, at the Apollo Theater in Harlem is a dream come true.”

“The Apollo Theater is a symbol of the creative spirit of New York and beyond, and I’m very happy that we’re kicking off our 18th Festival celebrating it with this documentary from Roger Ross Williams,” said Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro.

An outstanding creative team has been assembled for The Apollo, including editors Jean Tsien, ACE (Miss Sharon Jones!, Shut Up & Sing) and John S. Fisher, as well as Grammy-Award-winning musician Robert Glasper (Miles Ahead, 13th) who is composing the score. Hartmann and Tsien also serve as co-writers on the documentary.

The Apollo will have additional screenings during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Passes and packages to attend the festival go on sale on February 19th, 2019 and can be accessed here.

The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival will announce its feature film slate on March 5th.

 

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‘Pavarotti’ Documentary From Ron Howard Debuts Teaser During 61st Grammy Awards

A first look at Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard’s new documentary on Luciano Pavarotti, considered one of the most beloved opera singers of all time, has been released tonight in conjunction with the 61st Grammy Awards.

Titled Pavarotti, the film is produced by a team that includes Academy, Emmy and Grammy Award-winners Nigel Sinclair, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Michael Rosenberg and Jeanne Elfant Festa, along with David Blackman, Nicholas Ferrall and Dickon Stainer serving as executive producers. CBS Films will release it in theaters on June 7th.

Created from a combination of Luciano Pavarotti’s genre-redefining performances and granted access to never-before-seen footage, the film will give audiences an intimate portrait of the opera singer.

Pavarotti was written by Mark Monroe (The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years) and edited by Paul Crowder (Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years).

 

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Bee Gees, Go-Go’s Documentaries in the Works at Polygram

Polygram Entertainment has unveiled a quartet of music documentaries in development on the Bee Gees, the Go-Go’s, hip-hop jewelry and the origins of mixtapes, Variety has learned exclusively.

Polygram, which was revived in 2017 by Universal Music Group, rolled out details of the projects Saturday afternoon during a pre-Grammys showcase in downtown Los Angeles. Members of the Go-Go’s were in attendance along with UMG executives Michele Anthony and David Blackman and veteran film producer Frank Marshall, who’s handling the Bee Gees documentary.

Since 2017, Polygram has co-distributed Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” and developed several notable upcoming projects: a Luciano Pavarotti documentary directed by Howard, a Velvet Underground documentary directed by Todd Haynes and “Hitsville: The Making of Motown.”

The Bee Gees documentary feature is authorized by Barry Gibb and the families of his late brothers Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb. The film will be presented and fully financed by Polygram, Capitol Records and UMPG, and produced by the Kennedy/Marshall Company, White Horse Pictures and Diamond Docs. Marshall is directing and will produce with Nigel Sinclair (“Eight Days a Week”), Mark Monroe and White Horse Pictures’ Jeanne Elfant Festa.

The film, which will have complete access to all the Bee Gees archives, will follow the group, which formed in 1966 and went on to have a run of hits for another three decades.

“I have had an incredibly fortunate life and think back to the good times with my beloved brothers with a huge sense of awe,” Barry Gibb said. “And time gives us all a chance to look back and celebrate with a new perspective. I know our family is in excellent hands with Frank, Nigel and the talented team of filmmakers behind the doc. I am eternally grateful and excited to be able to share our unique journey with audiences around the world.”

Marshall told Variety that he began working on the project when he met Barry Gibb at the 2015 Grammys. He teamed up with Sinclair last year and plans to finish the film by the end of this year.

“I’ve always been impressed with the longevity of the Bee Gees,” Marshall added. “I reached out to Nigel because of ‘Eight Days a Week.’ I saw it and said ‘I want that.’”

Showtime announced Saturday that it has acquired the US rights to the untitled Go-Go’s documentary and plans to release the film later this year, while Sky Arts is the UK broadcast partner. Alison Ellwood directs the film and Corey Russell and Trevor Birney produce. The Go-Go’s rose to fame following the release of their 1981 debut album, “Beauty and the Beat.”

“We lived it and we survived it,” said the Go-Go’s. “Now, looking back on our history through this film, we can appreciate our journey, laughter, triumphs and struggles as a band. We hope this documentary will show the world what pioneers we were, and how our experience paved the way for other musicians.”

Polygram unveiled the working title Saturday for the mixtapes project — “From Scratch: How Mixtapes Changed Music Forever” — and said Def Jam and Saboteur Media are also producing with Omar Acosta directing. Acosta, Nick Quested (“Restrepo”) David Kennedy and “Mix Tape King” Tony Touch serve as producers. Touch is also the music supervisor.

The project is being launched as a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Def Jam label and will include recording of exclusive material from Def Jam artists. “From Scratch” will explore the evolution of mixtapes in which hip-hop artists and record promoters found themselves torn between the need for credibility and the piracy inherent in the medium.

A limited-edition cassette will be released by Def Jam in conjunction with the film.

The hip-hop jewelry movie, titled “Ice Cold,” is directed by Karam Gill as a production from Polygram Entertainment, Mass Appeal and Quality Control. Producers are Kevin “Coach K” Lee (Quality Control), Pierre “Pee” Thomas (Quality Control), and Daniel Seliger (UMG/Polygram).

“Ice Cold” features artists including Lil Baby, Lil Yachty Dave East, DJ Mustard, Talib Kweli, Slick Rick, Eric B & Rakim, Blocboy JB, French Montana, A-Boogie, Fetty Wap, A$AP Ferg, as well as celebrity jewelers including Ben Baller, Johnny Dang, Elliott Avianne and Mr. Flawless. Exec producers include Peter Bittenbender (Mass Appeal), Sacha Jenkins (Mass Appeal), Chris Gary (Mass Appeal), hip hop group Migos, Ethiopia Habtemariam (Motown) and Barak Moffitt (UMG).

 

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‘Queen Mary’ Horror Finds Captain in ‘Dracula Untold’ Director Gary Shore

The film — being introduced to buyers in Berlin by Rocket Science — will be shot on the real-life and allegedly haunted former ocean liner the Queen Mary.

 

A horror feature inspired by the legendary alleged haunting of real-life ocean liner the Queen Mary is finally setting sail, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, with the upcoming project due to dock first at the European Film Market in Berlin next month.

Gary Shore, who made a major box office splash with 2014’s Dracula Untold, has been tapped to helm The Queen Mary. Rocket Science is fully financing the project and also representing worldwide sales.

Developed by Brett Tomberlin, the film will be produced by Nigel Sinclair and Nicholas Ferrall of White Horse Pictures (The Woman in Black, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week), Brett Tomberlin (Winchester) for Imagination Design Works and Thorsten Schumacher and Lars Sylvest for Rocket Science (Resistance).

Tobin Armbrust will executive produce together with White Horse’s Cassidy Hartmann. Andy Trapani, Brian Gilbert and Steve Sheldon of Epic Entertainment Group will also serve as executive producers. White Horse Pictures’ Jeanne Elfant Festa will co-executive produce. Tom Vaughan and Jordan Rambis will co-produce. Mali Elfman is producing and Mark Tomberlin is executive producing as part of Imagination Design Works.

Described by Time magazine as “One of the world’s most haunted places,” the RMS Queen Mary was one of the first ships built by the Cunard-White Star Line. Unlike its infamous predecessor, Titanic, this ship survived a tidal wave, a mid-ocean collision, sabotage attempts and Hitler placing a $250,000 bounty to sink her during WWII.

However, after being retired and docking permanently in Long Beach, California in 1967, there were claims that the ship was haunted, with one of the staterooms alleged to contain the spirit of a person supposedly murdered there. It now operates attraction experiences based around this legend.

The upcoming film will center around photographers Erin and Patrick, who are brought aboard the vessel with their young son Lukas and unleash a series of events that entwines their family with the ship’s dark past.

According to The Queen Mary‘s synopsis, as the terror unfolds around the family they begin to realize there is more to this sumptuous ocean liner than meets the eye: its remarkable legacy masking violent secrets. As Erin and Patrick uncover the haunted layers that the vast ship contains, it becomes increasingly clear that there is only one way out for them — to go even deeper.

The Queen Mary will be the first horror film to be shot on board the actual real-life ship.

 

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Ron Howard’s ‘Pavarotti’ Movie Sells Around The World For White Horse Pictures & HanWay Films

Terry O'Neill/Decca/REX/Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: Ron Howard’s AFM buyer presentation for documentary Pavarotti, about iconic opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, was one of the hot tickets at last month’s market. Distributors have responded well to the project with a string of key deals inked by White Horse Pictures and HanWay Films.

Deals have closed for Germany and Austria (Wild Bunch), Spain (A Contracorriente), China (DDD Dream), Australia/NZ (Madman), Japan (Gaga) and South Korea (AUD). Italy has been licensed in collaboration with TIMVision and producer Wildside, the former being Telecom Italia’s growing streaming platform, which has picked up films and hit shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Elena Ferrante adaptation My Brilliant Friend. Wildside execs across the Italy deal included Lorenzo Gangarossa, Mario Gianani, and Lorenzo Mieli. A separate theatrical deal is also in the works.

Pre-sales have also been finalized for Benelux (The Searchers), CIS / Baltics (Volga Film), Czech Rep, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania (Prorom), Former Yugoslavia (Discovery), Greece (Odeon), Israel (Shoval), Middle East (Front Row), Poland (Best Film), Scandinavia (Svensk), Singapore (Shaw), Switzerland (Pathé Films), Taiwan (Moviecloud) and Turkey (Filmarti).

Oscar-winner Howard and producer Nigel Sinclair (Rush) presented nine minutes of footage to buyers during AFM. The doc biopic, currently in post-production, will feature memorable performances, including classic songs from Pavarotti’s Three Tenors days, previously unseen footage and talking heads including his widow Nicoletta and U2 frontman Bono. The project has buy-in from Pavarotti’s family and estate.

The director told us during AFM the release would have an event element to it, with Pavarotti performances available to play in cinemas after the film’s credits have rolled. Release is due early next year.

The film is fully financed by Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment and Decca Records, Pavarotti’s lifelong record label. Creative team includes The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years writer Mark Monroe and editor Paul Crowder. Producers are Nigel Sinclair, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Michael Rosenberg and Jeanne Elfant Festa. Executive producers are Polygram’s David Blackman and Decca Records’ Dickon Stainer along with White Horse’s Guy East and Nicholas Ferrall and Diamond Doc’s Paul Crowder and Mark Monroe.

The famed Italian tenor, who came from humble roots and initially wanted to be a soccer goalkeeper, was struck down by a life-threatening illness at a young age. He would go on to become a cultural and global icon, selling more than 100M records, known for his legendary performances of Nessun Dorma, which became a theme for the 1990 World Cup. He was also known for his charitible and philanthropic work. He passed in 2007.

Ron Howard Teases Upcoming Pavarotti Movie At Buyer Event, Reveals Release Plans — AFM

Multi-Oscar winner Ron Howard was at the American Film Market in Los Angeles this morning to stir up buyer interest in his upcoming Luciano Pavarotti documentary Pavarotti.

Howard, HanWay Films and producer Nigel Sinclair (Rush) hosted two busy buyer presentations for the film at the Shutters on the Beach hotel. The director’s enthusiasm for his opera singer subject and stirring footage impressed buyers we spoke to.

The doc biopic will feature memorable performances, including classic songs from Pavarotti’s Three Tenors days, previously unseen footage and talking heads including his widow Nicoletta and U2 frontman Bono. The project has buy-in from Pavarotti’s family and estate.

Howard told us after the private presentation, “It’s impossible to imagine that this kid would wind up as Pavarotti. The demands of his art-form were remarkable. It was almost an athletic achievement what he accomplished through performance. He had a great gift but that wasn’t all. He had charm, charisma, he chose to live his life in a state of appreciation and excitement and joy about what the world had to offer. That’s very inspiring. He also had a tremendous commitment and selflessness which is worth celebrating. At a time like this, today, that is a story worth reminding people about.”

The film will also have an event element to it, a smart addition at a time when event cinema is booming. Producer Sinclair, who collaborated with Howard on Rush and documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years revealed to us, “After the Beatles movie we showed performances from the famous Shea Stadium concert. With Pavarotti, which will be mixed in Dolby Atmos, we’re going to include three classic Pavarotti arias after the movie so audiences who have enjoyed the film can then sit and listen to three of his beautiful performances. That will be part of the buyers’ package on the movie.”

Howard enthused to buyers on multiple occasions, “Pavarotti’s life was an opera.” The famed Italian tenor, who came from humble roots and initially wanted to be a soccer goalkeeper, was struck down by a life-threatening illness at a young age. He would go on to become a cultural and global icon, selling more than 100M records, known for his legendary performances of Nessun Dorma, which became a theme for the 1990 World Cup. He was also known for his charity and philanthropical work. He passed in 2007.

HanWay and Sinclair’s White Horse are selling at the AFM. Pic is being made by Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment, Decca Records (the singer’s lifelong record label), Imagine Entertainment and White Horse Pictures. Currently in post-production, it is due to be ready next year.

As for Howard, his next narrative feature remains unknown but he and Imagine are currently developing a host of hot projects for film and TV, including features Hillbilly Elegy and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book for Disney.

 

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