Amazon Studios has acquired the Grateful Dead documentary Long Strange Trip, from director Amir Bar-Lev and producer Martin Scorsese. The four-hour film, divided into six parts, is set to debut May 26. Amazon says it “probes the creative forces, subversive ambitions, and interpersonal dynamics that drove the Grateful Dead in their 30-year quest for moments of collective inspiration. By inventing a unique fusion of folk, jazz, R&B, avant-garde experimentation, world music and rock and roll, they earned the devotion of the most committed fan base in the music business, while gleefully disdaining every cliché of pop success.”
The world premiere of Long Strange Trip will take place at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. Band members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir will attend.
“The story of the Grateful Dead is that of music and culture of the 20th century,” said Joe Lewis, head of comedy and drama, Amazon Studios. “Told with vast scope and an unprecedented cast of real life characters, Amir has taken advantage of this larger than life canvas to make an era-defining musical portrait that we can’t wait to bring to audiences everywhere.”
Executive producers include Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Rick Yorn, Andrew Heller, Sanford Heller, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Thomas J. Mangan IV and Alicia Sams.
“I’ve always admired the spirit and creativity of the Grateful Dead,” said Scorsese. “They are revolutionary artists who forever changed the world of touring and recording live music. They were a cultural force—a lifestyle, that continue to influence new generations of fans. This film will entertain and educate audiences about one of the most innovative and groundbreaking American bands of the 20th century.”
Bar-Lev said the project got started back in 2003. “I recognized immediately that Amazon was the perfect distributor when I met their team,” he said, “and I can’t wait to see how many brains they can infect with the Dead’s contagious brand of anti-establishment fun.”
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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