MUSCLE SHOALS — Rick Hall was elated to learn Magnolia Pictures acquired the distribution rights to the documentary focusing on his role in creating the Muscle Shoals sound.
Hall and his wife, Linda, were on their way to Orange Beach on Wednesday when he heard the news.
“I’m tickled to death they’re doing this,” Hall said. “I guess I’m going to be a movie star now.”
“Muscle Shoals” is a nearly two-hour documentary that focuses on Hall’s rise in the music business in the 1960s and 1970s.
Magnolia Pictures is co-owned by businessman Mark Cuban, who sports fans recognize as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team.
The film was produced by Stephen Badger and Greg “Freddy” Camalier, who spent more than three years shooting footage in the Shoals and other locations.
“Stephen and I are thrilled for Muscle Shoals to find such a wonderful partner in Magnolia Pictures who will help bring this amazing heretofore unknown tale to the world,” Camalier said in a news release issued by Magnolia Pictures.
The film premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and was screened two days during the South By Southwest Music and Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
Danielle McCarthy, manager of publicity and marketing for Magnolia Pictures, said the acquisition took place Tuesday in Austin.
“ ‘Muscle Shoals’ is a great accomplishment,” Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles said in a news release. “It captures the elusive magic of a truly special place that birthed some of the most exciting music ever made. Music fans of all ages are going to find this story revelatory.”
U.S. television rights to “Muscle Shoals” were sold to “Independent Lens” for broadcast on PBS, according to the Magnolia Pictures release.
“Independent Lens” is an Emmy winning weekly PBS television series that features original documentaries made by independent filmmakers.
“At its heart, ‘Muscle Shoals’ is a social issue doc that looks at how music transformed culture,” said Lois Vossen, “Independent Lens” senior series producer.
Hall said he had been in Knoxville and had not heard about the film being acquired for distribution.
“We were hopeful someone would pick it up and they would distribute it so people could see it three or four times,” Hall said.
Hall said both the recent screenings of the movie in the Shoals sold out, and there continues to be a buzz about the film.
“They’re supposed to show it in Nashville on the 20th of April,” Hall said. “They’re doing it for the Nashville Film Festival.”
“Muscle Shoals” tells the story of how Hall rose from poverty to become a player in the music business in a small Alabama town on the Tennessee River. The film follows Hall as he creates FAME Recording Studios and records such artists as Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter, Aretha Franklin and Etta James.
It follows the Swampers — David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Roger Hawkins and the late Barry Beckett — as they leave FAME to create Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, which recorded artists including The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart and Paul Simon.
“I am thrilled to hear that the rest of the world is going to learn about our rich musical heritage,” Hood said. “I hope that the attention generated by this movie will help the next generation of Muscle Shoals music talent. Freddy Camalier has given us a stunning gift, and we are so happy to see him getting the recognition he deserves.”
Rodney Hall, president of FAME Music Publishing, said he anticipates a limited theatrical release, followed by DVD release and finally, a television release.
“We’re excited about it,” he said. “Now we can move forward planning the release on it. It’s a big company. Very established.”
Hall said there is a “Muscle Shoals” soundtrack and companion CD in the works. He said there are new cuts by The Civil Wars and Jamey Johnson performing old Muscle Shoals tracks, and a Bob Dylan track recorded at FAME by Alicia Keys.
“It’s still evolving,” Hall said.
Magnolia Pictures is the theatrical and home entertainment distribution arm of the Wagner/Cuban Companies, a vertically-integrated group of media properties co-owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban that also includes the Landmark Theatres chain and AXS TV.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.