EXCLUSIVE: In the first deal for a film premiering at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, HBO Documentary Films has acquired U.S. TV rights to Believer, a Don Argott-directed documentary that follows Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds as he investigates how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members and how policies of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints that essentially shun same-sex marriage factors into a skyrocketing suicide rate among teens in Utah during the past decade. This is sure to be a hot-button offering for Park City, Utah. Reynolds, who is Mormon, said his aim is to provoke meaningful gay rights discussion within Mormonism on a larger scale.
The film is produced by Live Nation Productions and is the second linkup between HBO and the producer following Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends), which debuted on HBO in February. Believer will have its world premiere in the Documentary Premieres section of Sundance this month and will debut next summer on HBO. The film’s produced by Live Nation Productions head Heather Parry, Robert Reynolds and Sheena M. Joyce. Its exec producers are Michael Rapino, Reynolds, Argott, Jeff Ciabattari, Willie Mercer and Adam Milano.
Argott, who helmed DeLorean and The Art of the Steal, follows Reynolds as he assisted in organizing the inaugural LoveLoud Festival concert in Orem, Utah, to benefit such gay rights organizations as GLAAD and the Trevor Project. Believer takes a broader look at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ treatment of LGBTQ members and the suicide rate in the community, while it focuses on Reynolds, his wife and fellow musician Aja Volkman and Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn.
The charismatic Reynolds, who before seeing Imagine Dragons win Grammy Awards and become a huge touring act, was raised Mormon and became concerned about the religion’s restrictive policies regarding LGBTQ members. He hopes discussion of the issue within Mormonism will bring about much-needed awareness and change.
“LoveLoud reached 20,000 people in Utah, which is really small compared to the number of people who need to be reached,” he said. “I think the reason the film needs to happen is because I feel like this is a way that nobody can turn their heads away.”
The film’s score was composed by Oscar winner Hans Zimmer, who is coming off a big year with Dunkirk and Blade Runner 2049. Zimmer also contributed to one of the two original songs Reynolds wrote for the film.
Paradigm brokered the deal.