Given today’s rough marketplace for indie films, obtaining a theatrical release for even a big-name rockumentary is far from a sure bet. But Billy Joel’s new feature “Last Play at Shea,” which bowed at the Tribeca Film Festival this past weekend, looks like it is poised to beat the odds and could become one of the fest’s first big acquistion titles.
Of course, it helps that Joel and several other musicians featured in the film are long-time Sony recording artists. Jon Small, who directed the concert footage in “Shea,” which was helmed by Paul Crowder, said after an appearance at the fest’s “Docs Doing It Right” panel that it’s looking like Sony Pictures Classics may give “Shea” a limited theatrical rollout later this year, followed by a home video release.
Steve Cohen of Joel’s Maritime Motion Pictures (who produced the film with Nigel Sinclar) added that the filmmakers are in negotiations with Sony for a theatrical release, but there have been conversations with more than one Sony division about its distribution. “It all boils down to finances,” said Cohen, who emphasized that the right marketing budget would be the key to any deal. “As one of the producers, my main concern is the proper promotion of the film.”
“We have a great relationship with Sony Music [Entertainment],” said SPC co-president Michael Barker. “We’ve talked to them about a lot of films involving their artists and this was one of them, [but] there’s no deal.”
Not yet, anyway. The film was completed only four days prior to its Sunday world premiere at Tribeca, and Small says Joel (who financed the low-seven-figure budget himself) was willing to shelve the 95-minute feature if it didn’t turn out to his satisfaction. But the movie, which captures the final two concerts held in New York’s legendary Shea Stadium before its demolition in 2009, met with a warm response to at the fest, thanks to its performances by Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, Steven Tyler, Garth Brooks and Tony Bennett, along with tales of the stadium’s baseball players and longtime workers. And that should make its prospects for a theatrical run more likely.
Small is now working on a version for television solely composed of concert footage. No plans for a soundtrack have been finalized.
Exclusive Media is repping sales for producers Spitfire Pictures and Maritime Motion Pictures.-I know I'd see it...thoughts?