EXCLUSIVE: It won’t be absolutely free, but a new Frank Zappa movie is coming to North America. Magnolia Pictures has acquired rights to Zappa, a documentary directed by Bill & Ted’s Alex Winter that will hit theaters and VOD on Thanksgiving weekend.
Billed as an intimate and expansive look into the innovative life of the iconic — and iconoclastic — musician and artist, the pic was made with unfettered access to the Zappa family trust and all archival footage. It explores the private life behind the musical career that never shied away from the political turbulence of its time.
Zappa features appearances by the musician’s widow Gail Zappa and several of his musical collaborators including Mike Keneally, Ian Underwood, Steve Vai, Pamela Des Barres, Bunk Gardner, David Harrington, Scott Thunes, Ruth Underwood, Ray White and others.
“Alex Winter has created an amazing documentary,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “Zappa is an incredibly nuanced and compelling look at the visionary iconoclast and the environment that formed him.”
Added Winter, the former child actor who helmed the recent docu Showbiz Kids:
“This is the most ambitious project I’ve ever worked on, with a couple years of archival preservation in addition to several years to make the film itself. This isn’t your typical music doc but rather a multi-faceted narrative that aims to bring this complex artist to life. Magnolia, with its long and distinguished history of platforming great cinema, is the perfect home for Zappa.”
Winter also produced the docu along with Glen Zipper, Ahmet Zappa, John Frizzell, Devorah DeVries and Jade Allen. The executive producers are Robert Halmi and Jim Reeve of Great Point Media.
Magnolia has rocked a couple of other music-docu acquisitions of late. In June it acquired Crock of Gold – A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan, the Johnny Depp-produced pic about the Pogues frontman. At Toronto last year, it picked up Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band.
The Zappa deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and SVP Acquisitions John Von Thaden with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers. The pic releases November 27.