Classic rock docs like "Don't Look Back"(Dylan), "The Last Waltz"(The Band and friends). "Stop Making Sense" (Talking Heads) and "Woodstock" (Hendrix and tons of dirty hippies) cemented the legitimacy of the music documentary, but are they now a dying breed going the way of the dodo bird now that contemporary musicians are mediocre enough to not really deserve their own films? (Anvil notwithstanding).
According to the trades, kinda, sorta, yes.
"Theatrical runs almost never mine box office gold and are very seldom profitable: "Shine a Light," directed by Martin Scorsese, grossed only $5.5 million domestically, while "U2 3D" has scared up $9.7 million to date. And pity the poor Jonas Brothers, who were lambasted when the trio's "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience" grossed a paltry $12.7 million in its first week."Here's one that has yet to come out we'd still like to see.
Denny Tedesco spent more than a dozen years making "The Wrecking Crew," a documentary on the legendary group of L.A. session musicians who played behind everyone from the Beach Boys to Sonny and Cher and the Righteous Bros. Tedesco has screened the doc at more than 40 film festivals, taking home top honors at many of them. But he has yet to find a taker, in large part because of the low- six-figure licensing fees for the more than 130 song snippets used. Tedesco stresses the labels and publishers have agreed to let their music be used at a discounted rate, but we're still trying to raise the money for that," he says. Otherwise, he fears his labor of love is "dead in the water."A sad tale to be sure (here's the trailer for "The Wrecking Crew," and here's a crazy long list of songs they appeared on)
Two music docs headed for release this summer by Sony Pictures Classics, "Soul Power" (Zaire '74 concert featuring James Brown and more) and "It Might Get Loud" (the guitar shredders doc with Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge) might be fighting uphill battles at the box-office. It's a tough crowd out there, but still music docs persist. Later this year we'll also probably see "When You're Strange" (The Doors"), "Flight 666" (Iron Maiden) and "Woodstock: 40 Years Later," (VH1 via History Channel).
We're hard on music docs of late because many of them haven't been great, but we say long live the rock documentary as long as they're compelling [ed note. less fans, real filmmakers, please]. While we're here, rent Stephen Kijak's "Scott Walker: 30 Century Man" when it hits DVD later this summer; other than "Anvil: The Story Of Anvil!" it's one of the better ones out there. [Variety]