Elton John’s Documentary ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ Lands at Disney – Deadline
EXCLUSIVE: Disney Original Documentary and Disney+ have won the rights to a major documentary package, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: Elton John’s Last Performances and the Years That Made His Legend. No one would like to comment, but we hear the docu, from Oscar nominee RJ Cutler as well as filmmaker (and longtime Elton John partner) David Furnish, has sold for around $30 million.
Designed to serve as an official feature on Elton John, goodbye yellow brick road is made up of never-before-seen concert footage of him over the past 50 years, handwritten diaries, and current footage of him and his family. The plan for the project is to get a festival and limited theatrical release and be available exclusively on Disney+.
At the heart of the documentary is Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour,” as the film will capture Elton John’s final months on the road, culminating with his November performance at Dodger Stadium during his final North American show. . We hear the package includes the live streaming rights to that final concert, which is shaping up to be one of the biggest send-offs in rock and roll history.
goodbye yellow brick road will also come back to unprecedented John’s first five years of career when, between 1970 and 1975, he released 10 hit albums, seven of which went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts and became a worldwide phenomenon.
“There are no more superlatives to describe Elton John and his impact on music and culture – he is simply second to none,” said Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “Like a good Disney story, Elton’s music has both universal appeal and the ability to connect with audiences on a deeply personal level. He has been part of the Disney family since 1994 when he was part of the realization The Lion King an instant classic, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to collaborate with him on this new documentary.
Featuring exclusive new interviews and performance clips from Madison Square Garden, London and other venues, the film will be the definitive portrait of one of the world’s most successful musical artists of all time, who has inspired several generations of audiences and musicians. In addition to directing, RJ Cutler will also produce the film under his direction, This Machine Filmworks, a Sony Pictures television company, as will Furnish, which will produce under his and Elton John’s direction, Rocket Entertainment. Trevor Smith will also serve as producer. John Battsek, Jane Cha Cutler and Elise Pearlstein are joining as executive producers.
“Working with RJ Cutler and David Furnish on what will undoubtedly become the defining film about the iconic Elton John is a great honor,” said Ayo Davis, President of Disney Branded Television. “Their incredible insight and intimate access to exclusive, never-before-seen anecdotes and images will provide the deepest and most captivating insight yet into one of the world’s most beloved and prolific artists.”
For Cutler, goodbye yellow brick road follows another highly publicized musical documentary, Billie Eilish: The world is a bit blurry, which also sold in a big deal – estimated at around $25 million – to Apple TV+
“What a pleasure and what an honor it is that David Furnish and I can create this intimate and unique look at one of the world’s most celebrated artists,” Cutler said. “As with so many others, the music of Elton John has held deep meaning for me for decades, and this opportunity is nothing short of a career highlight and privilege.”
Said Furnish, “Elton and I couldn’t think of a better collaborator than RJ Cutler for a film that represents more than Elton’s career – it’s his life. From Troubadour to Dodger Stadium, we knew RJ would help guide Elton’s story and its many layers in an authentic and evocative way. We are thrilled to work together.
Cutler is the director, producer and screenwriter of a four-time Emmy-nominated and Oscar-nominated feature-length documentary. Billie Eilish: The world is a bit blurry. Her additional documentary credits include Critics’ Choice Award Belushi, Oscar nominee the war room, Emmy nominated A perfect candidate Sundance award winner The September issue Peabody Prize winner and Oscar nominee Listen to me Marlon, Grierson Prize winner Slim and The World According to Dick Cheney.
Submarine’s Josh Braun brokered the deal with Disney. Danny Passman of Gang, Tyre, Ramen, Brown & Passman replaced Rocket Pictures. Marisa Fermin and Sarah Santos replaced This Machine Filmworks. Jeanne Newman of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman replaced Cutler.