HBO has acquired U.S. TV rights to David Bowie: The Last Five Years, directed and produced by Francis Whately. The documentary focuses on the final segment of Bowie’s life, when he recorded his albums The Next Day and Blackstar and co-wrote the stage musical Lazarus.
Whately directed 2013’s David Bowie: Five Years, which examined five earlier eras of Bowie’s extraordinary career, including the Ziggy Stardust period and his Berlin days.
The Last Five Years, a BBC Films production, features rarely seen Bowie interviews, archival footage and audio from the Next Day and Blackstar recording sessions. HBO describes the docu as having “unprecedented access to Bowie’s closest friends and artistic collaborators” and being “a tribute to one of the greatest rock icons of all time.”
Bowie died in January 2016 at age 69, just two days after the release of Blackstar and several months after Lazarus made its off-Broadway debut. At Sunday’s Grammy Awards, Bowie won all five categories in which Blackstar was nominated, including Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance, Best Alternative Music Album, Best Recording Package and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.
The deal with HBO was negotiated by Melissa Green, VP Factual TV Sales and Co-Productions at BBC Worldwide North America.
“Looking at Bowie’s extraordinary creativity during the last five years of his life has allowed me to re-examine his life’s work and move beyond the simplistic view that his career was simply predicated on change,” said Whately. “HBO, whose global output the world admires, is a great channel to get this incredible documentary out to the U.S. fans.”
Among those interviewed in Last Five Years: Tony Visconti, Bowie’s longtime producer; Robert Fox, producer of Lazarus; cast members of the show; and musicians who contributed to his final two studio albums.
David Bowie: The Last Five Years will be presented by HBO Documentary Films and is a BBC Films production. Executive producer is Phil Dolling.