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Ron Howard to Direct Feature Documentary on Iconic Opera Singer Luciano Pavarotti

June 1, 2017


Following their successful collaboration on The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment and Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s White Horse Pictures will reteam for a feature documentary on famed tenor and opera icon Luciano Pavarotti. Howard will direct.

Much like The Beatles film which contained rare early footage, Pavarotti’s film will  feature access to the singer’s family archives, interviews and live music footage. It will be made in collaboration with Universal Music Group partner Polygram Entertainment. StudioCanal will co-finance and oversee international sales with White Horse Pictures. Latter will handle the North American distribution deal.  Howard, Sinclair, and Grazer will produce with Michael Rosenberg and Jeanne Elfant Festa. It is being eyed to be released in 2018.

Howard told Deadline:

“When we did The Beatles documentary, or for that matter Jay-Z’s MADE IN AMERICA, the amazing music was a big benefit, but I’m always more fascinated in the human interest side and the stories behind the music. As with The Beatles, Nigel Sinclair brought the idea to me of working on a docu about Pavarotti, and along with Nigel comes the same team of editor Paul Crowder and the executive producer and writer Mark Monroe. I didn’t know that much about opera, but always found Pavarotti a charismatic figure, whom I’d met in the 80s. Like many people, he was my introduction to opera as something that was accessible, moving and emotional. Probably the only opera albums I bought were by Pavarotti. One of my the pleasing things about The Beatles documentary was the opportunity to tell a compelling single viewing experience that honored and respected in an authentic way those who really knew their story and understood the nuances of the music and individuals, while heightening the curiosity of people who thought they knew The Beatles but really didn’t have any idea of the depth and power of the story. I hope to do the same here.”

Pavarotti’s story is largely untouched, especially in the US and there is quite a short of resource. He died in 2007 at the age of 71.

Howard said:

“He has been vastly documented and recorded enough that even though he’s not with us, we’re going to be able to allow Pavarotti to tell his own story. I am now going to school on this. For instance, I had no idea what a physical feat it is to generate those sounds, especially night in and night out. It is the function of years of dedicated training and a commitment to turn your body into that kind of instrument. It’s not just a matter of some people having a good set of pipes and others don’t.”

Much like The Beatles film had hours of playing dive clubs and playing songs in Shea Stadium, Pavarotti’s origins show the same kind of slow built.

“He lived through the ravages of WWII, the son of a local baker who had a great voice and dreams of performing, and a mother who rolled cigars in a factory in Northern Italy where he grew up. He struggled well into his 20s and was not any kind of prodigy. He emerged slowly but surely, gained his acclaim, and maintained it with a kind of athleticism I don’t think most of us understand is required to sing and perform at that level. He didn’t care much for money, but used his fame to become this ambassador for humanity because of the hardship he’d seen as a young man, and to expect the reach of opera. He took the unprecedented step of performing with the greatest pop stars of his era. It was controversial among opera purists but he took the chance because what was most important to him was that more people understood the power of opera and what it could mean to the heart and mind. I hope the film can continue that effort. And when he led the Three Tenors, the popularity was unprecedented; for a few years, they were as big an act and sold as many or more records as Prince, Elton John or the Rolling Stones.”

Grazer met Pavarotti when he performed with James Brown at a time Imagine was developing the movie about The Godfather of Soul.

White House’s East and Nicholas Ferrall will be executive producing with Crowder and Monroe. Cassidy Hartman will be serving as consulting writer and co-executive producing with Mark McCune as supervising producer. Dickon Stainer, President and CEO of Global Classics; UMG, and David Blackman, Head of Polygram Entertainment along with Didied Lupfer and Ron Halpern for StudioCanal will be executive producing.

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