The highlights have arrived when it comes to musical documents.
On the heels of Apple TV + which shelled out $ 26 million for a film about singer-songwriter Billie Eilish and Amazon paid $ 25 million for a Rihanna documentary directed by Peter Berg, negotiators say space will only heat up.
In fact, sources say that Peter Jackson So be it The Beatles doc, who is now doing the rounds, sparks a frenzy, with buyers predicting the prize will eclipse the RJ Cutler-directed Eilish movie ($ 1 million more than originally advertised).
“Everyone’s talking to Jackson right now, and it won’t be cheap,” says one buyer, who expects a deal to be done early in the new year.
Barely three years ago, Amazon paid $ 6 million for a Grateful Dead project, unprecedented at the time but a sign of an increased appetite in the space driven by streamers. For Eilish’s movie – which was reportedly negotiated by Lighthouse’s Aleen Keshishian and Submarine’s Josh Braun – Hulu and HBO Max were the most aggressive contenders outside of Apple. (Ironically, Keshishian’s brother Alek Keshishian directed the definitive pop star documentary from the early 1990s, Madonna: Truth or Dare.)
Taylor Swift’s documentary on Reputation Tour has drawn big numbers for Netflix, for years the dominant streamer of the subgenre, and it already has its next film in its stable. Sources say Miss American, which has its world premiere at Sundance in January, hasn’t brought in an astronomical number like Eilish’s because it was part of a two-movie deal signed long before the current fad.
Ditto for Warner Bros. ‘ Bruce Springsteen August Purchase Western stars (for $ 5 million, according to a source), which was modest but still a blow to a studio focused on big budget tent poles; the film grossed $ 3.6 million worldwide. But parent WarnerMedia wanted to stack the game for HBO Max in order to compete with streamers who were already making inroads with music documents.
There are additional advantages to presenting a music document for a global platform. As Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocket man boosted the catalogs of Queen and Elton John, the documents generate more downloads and sales. Travis Scott’s sales exploded after his Look mama i can fly doc launched on Netflix in August.
“It’s a land grab right now,” says one negotiator. “Each producer is trying to figure out which artist is next for a doc that will trigger an eight-figure sale.”
This story appears in the December 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.