On Friday, TriStar Pictures’ (NYSE:SNE) concert documentary One Direction: This Is Us, which centers around the hugely popular Irish boy band One Direction, is set to arrive in theaters and is also expected to break records along the way. Directed by Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker behind the documentary Super Size Me in which he famously ate a diet of only McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) for thirty days, the film is expected to climb the all-time UK box office chart where another Sony Entertainment film, Skyfall, currently reigns with a £102 million box office take.
In fact, odds-maker Ladbrokes is giving the film 4/1 odds of overtaking last year’s James Bond film for the number one film at the UK box office of all-time, and 5/1 odds for the film to win a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut in 2014.
“One way or another this film is going to break records and win awards,” Ladbrokes spokesperson Jessica Bridge said. ”The [One Direction] phenomenon is showing no signs of slowing down and the odds suggest they could be adding a BAFTA to their tour bus mantelpiece.”
While the performance of the concert documentary could be astounding in the UK, the film is likely to put up powerful numbers over here in the U.S. as well. The closest example of what to expect may lie in the numbers of 2011′s 3D concert film Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. The Paramount Pictures (NASDAQ:VIA) distributed Justin Bieber concert film ended up making $73 million domestically and $25 million in the foreign box office for a worldwide total of $98 million.
If Ladbrokes is to be trusted, One Direction: This Is Us appears poised to exceed the box office take of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never by a huge margin. But if all of this conjecture makes you just a little disturbed at the state of concert films, look no further than the following list of classic concert films to wash away the memories of Bieber and One Direction — at least until you walk outside and see a billboard for One Direction: This is Us.
These six films represent just a fraction of the best of the best when it comes to concert films, but if you’re looking to forget about the current state of concert films, these films are a great start. Check them out after the jump and let us know what your favorite concert film is.
1. Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii
Directed by Adrian Maben and distributed by Universal (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii was released in 1972 and chronicles Pink Floyd performing at the ancient Roman amphitheater in Pompeii, Italy.
One thing that sets this concert documentary apart from the others on this list is that, while Pink Floyd plays a typical set-list from this point in their career, the film has no audience. Filmed over the course of four days in October of 1971, the band used its regular tour equipment along with studio-quality 24-track recorders. Director Maben has stated that the choice was a direct response to other concert documentaries, such as Gimme Shelter, in which audience was given equal screen-time to performers.
While the film’s reception was somewhat cool when it was released — Billboard magazine called it ”dull, unimaginative and hokey” — the film has since gone on to be considered one of the best concert films of all-time.
2. Gimme Shelter
The 1970 concert documentary Gimme Shelter, which followed the last weeks of The Rolling Stones’ 1969 U.S. tour and culminated with the infamous Altamont Speedway Free Festival, is continually named among the best documentaries of all-time. The film is directed by Albert and David Maysles whose impact on documentary film, through the use of Direct Cinema in classics such as Salesman and Grey Gardens, can not be overstated.
The production of Gimme Shelter originated after the Maysles brothers were asked by The Rolling Stones to continue filming them on tour after filming the first concert of the tour at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The film then follows many of the behind-the-scenes dealmaking that would later make the Altamont concert happen before jumping into the Altamont festival itself — which is where all hell breaks loose.
If you’re not aware of the story behind the Altamont Speedway Free Festival, many equate the disastrous free festival with the death of the 1960′s, and everything that went along with it. Captured in the footage is everything from the Hell’s Angels violent disputes with band members to the stabbing of Meredith Hunter, who later died from her injuries. While the film is not exactly the cheeriest on this list, the film remains a landmark of documentary achievement with the Maysles brothers capturing an important chapter in U.S. history.
Directed by Michael Wadleigh and distributed by Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX), Woodstock is a 1970 concert documentary about the 1969 Woodstock Festival that took place in August of 1969. The film has consistently been listed among the best concert movies of all-time and is notable for having success at the time of release — the film received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and screened at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival.
The documentary includes performances by a slew of huge names, including Jimi Hendrix, Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin. In 1996, the film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the United States National Film Registry for being ”culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds firm at 100 percent “Fresh” and the late Robert Ebert wrote, “Few documentaries have captured a time and place more completely, poignantly, and for that matter, entertainingly.”
4. The Song Remains the Same
The Song Remains the Same is a concert film directed by Peter Clifton and Joe Massot about Led Zeppelin and was released in 1976. The filming took place over the course of three nights of concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City, along with additional footage shot at Shepperton Studios due to camera operator error.
The film was notable for having lots of production problems. The film was rushed together quickly, director Massot was later ejected for Clifton, and additional footage was later necessary because of problems with footage that was shot. The film ended up falling 18 months behind schedule and over-budget to boot.
Despite the film’s various problems, it ended up grossing $200,000 at the box office during the first week and an estimated $10 million by 1977. While critical reception of the documentary is mixed, especially at the time of release, the film has gone on to be considered notable for revealing Led Zeppelin at what could be considered the height of their career. For that alone, the documentary is worth a look.
5. The Last Waltz
When the topic of best concert films of all-time comes up, The Last Waltz invariably isn’t far behind. Directed by none other than Martin Scorsese, The Last Waltz chronicles The Band’s concert on Thanksgiving Day 1976, which was advertised as The Band’s farewell concert.
The film includes performances by various artists along with The Band, including Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Van Morrison, and Eric Clapton. Live songs are mixed in with studio segments in which Scorsese interviews members of The Band about the group’s history.
The critical reception for The last Waltz remains strong. Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “The greatest rock concert movie ever made — and maybe the best rock movie, period,” while Ebert called it, “A revealing document of a time.”
6. Stop Making Sense
Stop Making Sense is a concert film featuring the Talking Heads live on stage. Directed by Jonathan Demme, the filmmaker behind Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, and Rachel Getting Married, no concert film list can be complete without mentioning this 1984 classic. With a budget of $1.2 million raised entirely by the members of the band and shot over the course of three days, the film begins with lead singer David Byrne singing “Psycho Killer” alone on stage with the main members of the band appearing over the course of the next several songs.
The film is also famous for Byrne’s oversized business suit he wears during the show which has since gone on to be a piece of pop culture lore. It is also notable for breaking with many of the concert film traditions of the past. For one, the film includes very little shots of the audience until the end which Byrne had hoped would push the viewers to make their own conclusions about the performance. There were also no colored lights, a focus on minimalist set decoration, and a lack of quick cuts.
But the reason to watch this concert film above all else is David Byrne’s absolutely incredible performance. From walking out on stage and performing “Psycho Killer” to dancing with a lamp during “This Must Be The Place,” Byrnes’ creativity is not to be underestimated. Roger Ebert wrote, “Starting with Mick Jagger, rock concerts have become, for the performers, as much sporting events as musical and theatrical performances. Stop Making Sense understands that with great exuberance.”