EXCLUSIVE: Ron Howard’s AFM buyer presentation for documentary Pavarotti, about iconic opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, was one of the hot tickets at last month’s market. Distributors have responded well to the project with a string of key deals inked by White Horse Pictures and HanWay Films.

Deals have closed for Germany and Austria (Wild Bunch), Spain (A Contracorriente), China (DDD Dream), Australia/NZ (Madman), Japan (Gaga) and South Korea (AUD). Italy has been licensed in collaboration with TIMVision and producer Wildside, the former being Telecom Italia’s growing streaming platform, which has picked up films and hit shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Elena Ferrante adaptation My Brilliant Friend. Wildside execs across the Italy deal included Lorenzo Gangarossa, Mario Gianani, and Lorenzo Mieli. A separate theatrical deal is also in the works.

Pre-sales have also been finalized for Benelux (The Searchers), CIS / Baltics (Volga Film), Czech Rep, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania (Prorom), Former Yugoslavia (Discovery), Greece (Odeon), Israel (Shoval), Middle East (Front Row), Poland (Best Film), Scandinavia (Svensk), Singapore (Shaw), Switzerland (Pathé Films), Taiwan (Moviecloud) and Turkey (Filmarti).

Dan Steinberg

 Oscar-winner Howard and producer Nigel Sinclair (Rush) presented nine minutes of footage to buyers during AFM. The doc biopic, currently in post-production, 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.

The director told us during AFM the release would have an event element to it, with Pavarotti performances available to play in cinemas after the film’s credits have rolled. Release is due early next year.

The film is fully financed by Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment and Decca Records, Pavarotti’s lifelong record label. Creative team includes The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years writer Mark Monroe and editor Paul Crowder. Producers are Nigel Sinclair, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Michael Rosenberg and Jeanne Elfant Festa. Executive producers are Polygram’s David Blackman and Decca Records’ Dickon Stainer along with White Horse’s Guy East and Nicholas Ferrall and Diamond Doc’s Paul Crowder and Mark Monroe.

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 charitible and philanthropic work. He passed in 2007.