The film will launch on the premium cable network later this year and comes after Deadline revealed the filmed version of the show in January.
The Broadway production, which opened October 2019 and ran through February 16 at the Hudson Theatre, features the Talking Heads cofounder accompanied by 11 musicians from around the world performing songs from Byrne’s 2018 album American Utopia as well as hits from his Talking Heads and solo periods.
The stage musical is set to return to Broadway’s Hudson Theatre for a limited engagement beginning in September, though all Broadway immediate plans are more or less on hold as theaters remain closed due to the coronavirus.
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The Broadway production featured the work of choreographer Annie-B Parson and Alex Timbers serving as production consultant, both of whom previously collaborated with Byrne on the Imelda Marcos musical Here Lies Love; lighting design is by Rob Sinclair and sound design by Pete Keppler; Karl Mansfield and Mauro Refosco are musical directors.
The feature-length film includes collaboration between choreographer Parson, director of photography Ellen Kuras, production consultant Timbers and editor Adam Gough. Collaborating with Kuras are 11 camera operators, many of whom are directors of photography in their own right, including Declan Quinn and Sam Levy.
Participant, River Road Entertainment and Warner Music Entertainment are executive producing and financing the project, with Participant as lead. The film is produced by David Byrne’s Todomundo and Lee’s Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks production companies and executive produced by RadicalMedia. Byrne and Lee serve as producers. Participant’s Jeff Skoll, David Linde, and Diane Weyermann executive produce; along with Warner Music Group’s Len Blavatnik, David Bither, Charlie Cohen, and Kurt Deutsch; Bill Pohlad and Christa Zofcin Workman of River Road; and RadicalMedia’s Jon Kamen, Dave Sirulnick and Meredith Bennett. Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson and Patrick Catullo, who lead produced the Broadway production, also serve as executive producers.
“David Byrne’s American Utopia is a uniquely transformative experience and a perfect example of how entertainment can bring us together during these challenging times,” said Nina Rosenstein, Executive Vice President, HBO Programming. “Spike’s brilliant direction adds a level of intimacy to this powerful performance, and we’re so thrilled to share this groundbreaking show with our audience.”
“Spike and I have crossed paths many times over the years, obviously I’m a huge fan and now finally here was an opportunity for us to work together,” said Byrne. “I am absolutely thrilled with the result. The Broadway show was a wonderful challenge as well as an opportunity – it was a joy to perform and, well, best to let the quotes speak for themselves. Thrilled that this show and the subjects it addresses will now reach a wider audience.”
“It is my honor and privilege that my art brother, Mr. David Byrne, asked me to join him in concert, to invite me into his magnificent world of American Utopia,” added Spike Lee. “And dat’s da ‘once in a lifetime’ truth, Ruth. Ya-dig? Sho-nuff. Peace and love. Be safe.”
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