Howard, HanWay Films and producer Nigel Sinclair (Rush) hosted two busy buyer presentations for the film at the Shutters on the Beach hotel. The director’s enthusiasm for his opera singer subject and stirring footage impressed buyers we spoke to.
The doc biopic will feature memorable performances, including classic songs from Pavarotti’s Three Tenors days, previously unseen footage and talking heads including his widow Nicoletta and U2 frontman Bono. The project has buy-in from Pavarotti’s family and estate.
Howard told us after the private presentation, “It’s impossible to imagine that this kid would wind up as Pavarotti. The demands of his art-form were remarkable. It was almost an athletic achievement what he accomplished through performance. He had a great gift but that wasn’t all. He had charm, charisma, he chose to live his life in a state of appreciation and excitement and joy about what the world had to offer. That’s very inspiring. He also had a tremendous commitment and selflessness which is worth celebrating. At a time like this, today, that is a story worth reminding people about.”
The film will also have an event element to it, a smart addition at a time when event cinema is booming. Producer Sinclair, who collaborated with Howard on Rush and documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years revealed to us, “After the Beatles movie we showed performances from the famous Shea Stadium concert. With Pavarotti, which will be mixed in Dolby Atmos, we’re going to include three classic Pavarotti arias after the movie so audiences who have enjoyed the film can then sit and listen to three of his beautiful performances. That will be part of the buyers’ package on the movie.”
Howard enthused to buyers on multiple occasions, “Pavarotti’s life was an opera.” The famed Italian tenor, who came from humble roots and initially wanted to be a soccer goalkeeper, was struck down by a life-threatening illness at a young age. He would go on to become a cultural and global icon, selling more than 100M records, known for his legendary performances of Nessun Dorma, which became a theme for the 1990 World Cup. He was also known for his charity and philanthropical work. He passed in 2007.
HanWay and Sinclair’s White Horse are selling at the AFM. Pic is being made by Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment, Decca Records (the singer’s lifelong record label), Imagine Entertainment and White Horse Pictures. Currently in post-production, it is due to be ready next year. CAA co-reps domestic.
As for Howard, his next narrative feature remains unknown but he and Imagine are currently developing a host of hot projects for film and TV, including features Hillbilly Elegy and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book for Disney.