UMG and Passion Pictures Set to Produce Documentary on INXS Lead Singer Michael Hutchence: Exclusive

Michael Hutchence of INXS
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Michael Hutchence of INXS photographed in London in 1990. 

Nearly 20 years after his death, charismatic INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence will be the subject of a feature-length documentary produced by Universal Music Group and Passion Pictures.

Australian filmmaker Richard Lowenstein, who worked with INXS for many years, including helming the acclaimed music video for “What You Need,” will direct. “I have been working on the definitive documentary film journey into the heart and soul of this complex, shy, poetic and exceptionally charismatic man for many years,” he said in a statement. “To be able to embark on this film now with such great partners as UMG, UK’s Passion Pictures, Ghost Pictures, [longtime INXS manager] Chris [Murphy] and INXS is extremely exciting and I know that together we are going to tell this story like no one else can.”

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Hutchence was found dead in a Sydney hotel room in November 1997. His death was ruled a suicide. Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Australian band INXS was one of the biggest rock bands in the world, scoring such hits as “The One Thing,” “Original Sin,” “What You Need,” “Need You Tonight” and “Never Tear Us Apart,” propelled by Hutchence’s seductive purr and lithe, magnetic stage presence. 

The film is part of UMG’s expansion into film, TV, theater and live events following its success as co-producer of the Oscar-winning documentary feature film, Amy, Asif Kapadia's 2015 doc about the life of Amy Winehouse. In January, UMG tapped film producer David Blackman and Broadway producer Scott Landis to oversee development of its film, television and theatrical projects. Among the other projects under the new endeavor is Ron Howard’s Beatles documentary, Eight Days A Week, out in September.

“Michael Hutchence was a musical genius who led one of the world’s biggest bands to global stardom, only to succumb to a tragic end,” said Blackman, UMG’s head of film and television development, in a statement. “We have assembled an incredible team that is committed to telling Michael’s story and providing the world with a portrait of a man who left behind an enduring musical and cultural legacy.”

John Battsek from Passion Pictures, producers of the Academy Award-winning documentary Searching for Sugarman, stresses having the blessing of those close to Hutchence is key. “To know we have access to everyone and everything required to make such a film and the full support of UMG just reaffirms to us all that we can tell this story in the truest and most authentic way possible.”

Among the beneficiaries of the film’s proceeds will be Hutchence’s 20-year old heir, Tiger Lily, his daughter with the late Paula Yates. 

INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, an Australian mini-series about the band, with Luke Arnold playing Hutchence, aired in Australia in 2014, and later on Showtime.

CAA will handle North American distribution rights for the new documentary, as well as worldwide deals originating in North America. The documentary is expected to arrive in theaters at the end of 2017.