Apple TV+ Scores Docuseries on Magic Johnson

Apple TV+ has picked up a documentary  series that will chronicle the life and career of two-time NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

A New Slate Ventures and XTR Production, the four-part docuseries will explore the accomplishments and global impact of Johnson’s life, both on and off the court. From his humble beginnings in Lansing, Mich., to becoming a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, he changed the conversation around HIV and transcended into a community activist and successful entrepreneur. Featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with Magic, powerhouses from business and politics, and those in his inner circle, the series will offer an unprecedented look at one of sport’s all-time greats.

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa (“Dope”) with editor Dirk Westervelt (“Ford v. Ferrari”) and cinematographer Rachel Morrison (Black Panther), the docuseries is produced for Apple by XTR and New Slate Ventures, and produced in association with H.Wood Media and Delirio Films.

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Premiere Digital Mounting First Title Release With Doc ‘The Wall — Climb for Gold’

Premiere Digital is getting into content distribution.

In collaboration with Windfall Films, the media services and software solutions company is distributing its first title, The Wall — Climb for Gold, a feature-length documentary scheduled to debut to global audiences on digital platforms in early 2022.

It marks the first release of an ongoing slate of films and content offerings planned from Los Angeles-based Premiere Digital.

The Wall is produced by international production company Windfall Films (part of the Argonon Group). The film was made with the support of sports brand Adidas and follows four elite female climbers from the Adidas team over a two-year period as they battle to make it through the qualifying events to get to Tokyo for the first ever Olympic climbing competition. The journey includes a grueling season of competition and training that sees all their original plans in tatters as the COVID-19 pandemic forces the Olympics to be postponed. As they battle both mentally and physically en route to the games, the film offers insight into what it means to be an Olympian through an intimate look into the lives of these elite climbers: Brooke Raboutou (United States), Janja Garnbret (Slovenia), Miho Nonaka (Japan) and Shauna Coxsey (Great Britain).

Garnbret was a child phenomenon and holds the most world titles under her belt in the sport. Heralded as the greatest competition climber of all time and the overwhelming favorite for the Olympic title, she is under extraordinary pressure to deliver when it matters most.

Raboutou, 20, is one of the youngest competitors at the Games and must balance training and being a student at U.C. San Diego. Both Raboutou’s mother and father are legends of the sport, winning numerous World Cup titles in the 1990s, and she hopes to continue the family success.

Nonaka, the 2018 Bouldering World Cup champion, is a Tokyo native and must overcome all the extra pressure of representing her country in her home city.

Coxsey is one of the most successful British climbers in history, with Bouldering World Cup titles in 2016 and 2017. Coxsey has fought to overcome serious injury but hopes to continue her success with a record-shattering performance at the Olympics.

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The film is directed by Nick Hardie (“Formula 1: Drive to Survive”), features a score by multi-award winning composer Nainita Desai (The Reason I Jump, For Sama) and is edited by Emily West.

The Wall is an intimate, emotional and epic story charting the astonishing journeys of four inspiring athletes from across the globe,” Dan Kendall, executive producer for Windfall Films, said in a statement. “The film provides a unique window into the climbers’ lives, capturing their amazing strength of character. With its broad international appeal, The Wall — Climb for Gold will excite and engage audiences across the world.”

“It is absolutely fitting that the first film we are distributing as part of our new distribution business is a remarkable story about dedicated, passionate and goal-oriented female athletes who overcome obstacles and challenges abound to reach new heights,” Steve Rosenberg, chief commercial officer, Premiere Digital, said in a statement. “We are truly excited to bring this incredibly riveting and inspirational documentary to audiences worldwide and look forward to a prosperous future working with filmmakers and content producers to have their stories shared.”

The Wall — Climb for Gold was created by Windfall Adventures Ltd, a subsidiary of Windfall Films. Windfall was supported by Adidas in the making of the film but throughout retained complete independence and editorial control, according to the press release.

Netflix to Bow Documentary Series on Tennis Star Naomi Osaka

Netflix will bow an untitled documentary series on tennis star Naomi Osaka, in association with Uninterrupted and produced by Film 45.

The series follows multiple-Grand Slam-champion Naomi Osaka, who became the first Asian player to reach the No. 1 singles ranking after winning her first Grand Slam at the U.S. Open in 2018 and second at the Australian Open in 2019.

The documentary series also gives audiences a window into the life of a global tennis superstar. It will cover Naomi’s pivotal year, from the U.S. Open in August 2019 and on tour with the tennis star as she plays in each of the Grand Slams and prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka emigrated from Japan to the United States as a child, where she rose to become the first Asian player to reach the heights of international tennis. The series follows Naomi to Japan to understand her connection with the country she represents and the reflections of her multi-cultural identity.

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“To be able to tell my story and let people in during this big year, working with a team that really understands me, has been a rewarding experience,” said Osaka in a statement. “It won’t look like a traditional sports documentary, and I’m so excited to share it with everyone.”

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The series is directed by Garrett Bradley whose short film Alone was shortlisted for an Academy Award. At Sundance 2020, Bradley won Best Director for her U.S. documentary feature in competition TIME.