Cinedigm has signed Grammy winning rock star and producer Dave Stewart to bring a series of documentary films to movie theaters in a regular, recurring time slot, the company said Thursday.
Each segment will focus on the songwriting process, and will culminate in a performance showcasing new songs.
The films will be produced by Stewart's Weapons of Mass Entertainment, with each installment in the "Dave Stewart Presents …" series featuring Stewart and a variety of musical guests — although the rock star is remaining mum about who will be in the line-up.
"I’m actually just doing what I really do," Stewart said. "I write songs with people, I record them and I serve as a catalyst for their music. These films are going to allow people to watch something being created in front of their eyes."
Best known for his work with his former band The Eurythmics, Stewart has also produced albums and co-written songs for the likes of Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Bono, Sinead O’Connor, Mick Jagger, Katy Perry, Jon Bon Jovi, Joss Stone, and Stevie Nicks.
With Jagger, Dave recently formed SuperHeavy, a group that features Stone, Damian Marley and A.R. Rahman.
Stewart said he has been filming his song-writing and recording sessions for years and that the deal with Cinedigm emerged after he showed the company documentaries he had made about his collaborations with Nicks and Stone.
Although he likens the films to MTV's "Unplugged" series, Stewart said he was not interested in television. He wants to film the performances in grand settings that are perfect for the big screen, not just recording studios.
"Once you know its going straight to the cinema, you can think in a more cinematographic way," Stewart said. "I want to film in huge wide open spaces, big barns and woods. I want it to be like a trip where you're entering into a world, like you're walking through the gates of Graceland."
He is also interested in using emerging technology to perhaps allow him to include live introductions, performances and question and answer sessions that would be included as part of the films.
Stewart will direct some films, produce and will serve as the interviewer and guide through the song-writing process.
For Cinedigm, it is part of a larger strategy to provide alternative content to movie theaters. Cinedigm Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chris McGurk maintains that this kind of programming will lure audiences into theaters on week nights, when the crowds are usually sparse.
McGurk told TheWrap that the series should be ready to go into theaters next fall. He expects it to show on between 100 to 400 screens at a time, with a new documentary hitting theaters every month.
Cinedigm plans to handle the home entertainment release of the films, possibly through its recently announced joint venture with New Video. McGurk said that a theatrical release is central to that strategy.
"A theatrical release dramatically enhances the value of content in the home — everything from VOD to streaming — but you have to do it with the right type of content," McGurk said.
It also provides opportunities for sponsorships, McGurk said. That's something Stewart is familiar with, having co-authored a 2010 book on entrepreneurship called "The Business Playground: Where Creativity and Commerce Collide."
"He's the perfect partner, because he's not just a musical genius, but he's also really smart from a business standpoint," McGurk said.
Since McGurk took the reins at the company, Cinedigm has been repositioning itself as a content company. Last year, Cinedigm released 10 films, including a 3D Dave Matthews Band concert and the Sarah Palin documentary "Undefeated."