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“Immersive” David Bowie film in the works from Kurt Cobain documentary director

The David Bowie film will include “thousands of hours of never before seen material”

By Grace Almond

David Bowie performs at Glastonbury Festival
Bowie's 2000 Glastonbury set will be among the films screened at BFI Southbank. (Photo: Alamy)

An “immersive” David Bowie film is on the way from Brett Morgen, the director of ‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck’. 

The project has been in the works for four years, and will incorporate “thousands of hours of rare performance footage of the musician”, according to Variety.

A source has described the project as “neither documentary nor biography, but an immersive cinematic experience built, in part, upon thousands of hours of never before seen material.”

Morgen is reportedly considering an IMAX release for the film, and, in addition to his directing duties, he has been involved in the editing, writing and production processes as well. 

Morgen acquired the rights to the material, and BMG and Live Nation are financiers and producers on the project. The sound team behind the Queen biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ have also reportedly joined to mix and design the project.

Unlike the recent biographical film about Bowie, ‘Stardust’, which was released in 2020 starring Johnny Flynn as the late singer, Morgen’s film is reported to have been made with the cooperation of the David Bowie estate. 

David Bowie’s wife, Iman, recently told Variety that they would not support a biopic of Bowie’s life: “it’s always a no. We always ask each other, ‘Would he do it?’ He wouldn’t.” ‘Stardust’ failed to gain approval from Bowie’s estate, and the film was unable to use any of his music, resorting to reimagining covers of songs performed by Bowie.

Whilst not much else has been revealed about the project, including the film’s title, Variety has indicated that a Sundance Film Festival release could happen, particularly as it takes place just after the six-year anniversary of Bowie’s death in 2016. 

This won’t be Morgen’s first foray into the world of biopics: his 2017 film, ‘Jane’, explored the story of primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall, and was awarded two Primetime Emmy Awards that year. In terms of music biopics, he also directed ‘Crossfire Hurricane’, a film about The Rolling Stones’ early years as a band. 

Morgen’s Kurt Cobain biopic, ‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck’, was released on HBO in 2015, to overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. The film included animation and Cobain’s artwork to chart his life from birth until his suicide in 1994.

Warner Music Group is reportedly in talks with Bowie’s estate to acquire David Bowie’s song writing catalogue. The label is reportedly raising $535 million (£398 million) in debt to support the acquisition. The Financial Times reported that the catalogue has already attracted bids of $200 million (£149 million).