Catalyst Global Media and Warner Music Group Corp., the world’s third-largest record label with a stable of artists that includes Led Zeppelin, Neil Young and Prince, have reached an exclusive partnership whereby the companies will jointly produce a slate of feature biopics and documentaries based on Warner Music artists.
The multi-year, multi-picture agreement is expected to cover some of the most iconic artists on the label’s roster. Catalyst will develop and finance the projects and oversee worldwide distribution.
As Bloomberg Business has reported, “Films can boost album sales. Records by Amy Winehouse, Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain and the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson all recently resurfaced on the Billboard charts around the same time as movies about those artists opened in theatres.” The timing of this deal coincides with increasing interest from video services like Netflix, who just released a documentary about Nina Simone and will offer one about Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards in September. Likewise AMY, the documentary about the singer Amy Winehouse’s sudden rise and fall, was produced and financed by Universal Music Group as part of their bigger push into movies. Speaking to Bloomberg Business about this earlier in the month Catalyst CEO Charlotte Walls said “There is an awful lot of energy and money put into building these brands in the past. Film documentaries allow music labels and estates to be rewarded for that investment beyond the artist’s life.”
Catalyst already has an integrated music specialism courtesy of Al Hardiman, Catalyst’s co-founder and President of the company’s music division, who will oversee the slate alongside Walls, working hand-in-hand with Warner Music executives Rich Robinson and Jen Moss to mine the Warner label for artists and performers, past and present, who are best suited for big screen adaptations and documentary features. Catalyst Global Media’s wider in-house team has a wealth of experience in the music industry, including the feature films Good Vibrations, Jimi: All Is By My Side, Killing Bono, Nowhere Boy, and collaborations with Bonobo, Radiohead, Florence Welch, The Who and work on the animated band Gorillaz.
Announcing the exclusive partnership Bloomberg noted “Warner Music and Catalyst have already worked together on a pair of projects, including the Netflix Inc. miniseries “Residue.” Warner oversaw the music, and one of its artists, Australian pop singer Georgi Kay, recorded the theme for the opening credits.” Robinson added in The Hollywood Reporter “Al, Charlotte and their team are experts in creating memorable moments, they bring scripts to life, design stunning visuals and have the ability to really pull audiences into the worlds they create. Our rich catalogue will provide lots of inspiring and exciting material – from the influences and passions of Warner’s iconic artists to the making of legendary songs – and I look forward to seeing the stories that result from our partnership.”
Speaking in Screen International on the new co-venture Hardiman has said “Music is a key part of the DNA here at Catalyst, and we are thrilled to be partnering with Warner Music to bring a selection of compelling stories to the screen based on musical legends past and present.” Walls added, “This co-venture, based on an existing relationship, is a great opportunity to seek out some brilliant stories from much loved artists. You never know, we might help uncover the next ‘Searching for Sugarman’ or a bring old and new audiences to an artist’s catalogue like ‘Walk The Line’ did for the music of Johnny Cash.”