Why the Music Industry is Betting on Biopics and Documentaries For its Next Revenue Burst

During the next year, some 11 biopics, biodocs — as in documentaries — and high-concept films about music artists and fabled eras of industry history are set to debut at theaters and on TV and streaming services, with at least another 14 screening that are at film festivals, looking for distributors or are in production or development. With a few exceptions, they all have licensed synch rights from music publishers, record labels or both. Although these projects will screen in the wake of Bohemian Rhapsody’s success — the film has grossed almost $1.1 billion globally, according to IMDbPro (the source for all box-office totals in this story); won four Academy Awards; and generated almost 2 billion on-demand streams since November, according to Nielsen Music — virtually all were in production before it hit the cineplex.

The exciting, inspirational — and, sometimes, tortured and debauched — life stories of musicians and songwriters have long attracted filmmakers, and the advent of video streaming services Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime has ratcheted up the demand for documentaries that were once almost solely the province of HBO.

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