An all-new documentary celebrating the life of late British rockstar David Bowie is nearing completion and will be released by NEON and Universal Pictures Content Group, the companies announced Wednesday (April 13). Titled Moonage Daydream, the film will be released by NEON in the U.S., while Universal Pictures Content Group has international distribution rights.
No theatrical release date has been announced, though the film is slated to premiere on HBO and HBO Max in spring 2023 via HBO Documentary Films. Theatrical engagements for Moonage Daydream — which marks the first film under a multi-picture deal between Morgen and BMG for IMAX Productions — will include IMAX screenings in select markets.
Five years in the making, Moonage Daydream was written, directed, edited and produced by Brett Morgen, who was given “unfiltered” access to Bowie’s personal archives, including all master recordings, according to a press release. While researching the film, Morgen came across hundreds of hours of never-before-seen 35mm and 16mm footage, allowing him to assemble Bowie’s performances from these original camera masters. The resulting project is described as “an artful and life-affirming film that takes the audience on a journey through Bowie’s creative life.”
Morgen was assisted in the effort by Bowie’s long-time collaborator, friend and music producer Tony Visconti; sound mixer Paul Massey (Bohemian Rhapsody); sound engineer David Giammarco (Ford v. Ferrari); the sound design team of John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone (Bohemian Rhapsody); and visual effects producer Stefan Nadelman (Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck).
Guided by “Bowie’s narration,” according to the release, Moonage Daydream includes 48 musical tracks mixed from their original stems and is the first film to be officially sanctioned by his estate. BMG has a 25% stake in Bowie’s songs released between 1970 to 1977, including the title song “Moonage Daydream” along with “Changes,” “Starman,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “The Jean Genie,” “All The Young Dudes,” “Life on Mars,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Fame,” “Young Americans” and “Golden Years.” The company additionally has the rights to six early Bowie recordings first released on the Pye label in 1966. BMG notes that its relationship with the Bowie catalog isn’t affected by WMG’s January acquisition of Bowie’s song catalog.
Moonage Daydream is part of an ongoing Bowie75 commemoration in honor of the icon’s life and musical legacy. Bowie died of liver cancer in January 2016 and would have turned 75 on Jan. 8, 2022.
In a statement, BMG executive vp of global repertoire Fred Casimir said, “This has been a five year labour of love to honour one of the greatest song catalogues in music history. BMG is proud to build on our long-term relationship with the David Bowie estate working hand-in-hand with our partners Live Nation Productions to bring Brett Morgen’s vision to the big screen.”
Live Nation Productions partnered with BMG on Moonage Daydream as co-financiers and executive producers. Additional executive producers on the project include Hartwig Masuch, Kathy Rivkin-Daum and Justus Haerder for BMG; Michael Rapino, Heather Parry and Ryan Kroft for Live Nation Productions; Bill Zysblat, Tom Cyrana, Aisha Cohen and Eileen D’Arcy for RZO; Billy Gerber and Debra Eisenstadt.
NEON’s Jeff Deutchman negotiated the North America deal with Kevin Koloff, as well as Karen Gottlieb of Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, P.C. Submarine and WME handled sales.