Ron Howard Directing A Jay-Z Documentary

Jay-Z having 99 Problems
(Image credit: Def Jam)

If I asked you to rattle off the top 10 directorial candidates for a Jay-Z concert film – heck, the top 20 candidates – would Ron Howard even sniff you list? Mine, neither, but it appears that Oscar-winning director of A Beautiful Mind and Frost/Nixon is diving into a Jay-Z documentary as we speak.

Howard and his longtime producer are planning to film Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival, scheduled for Sept. 1 and 2 in Philadelphia, according to the New York Post’s Page Six. And once you hear the lineup, you can understand why. Drake, Pearl Jam, Run DMC, Skrillex, Rick Ross, Miike Snow, Odd Future and Janelle Monae are scheduled to perform over the course of the two-day event.

Grazer, who’ll co-produce with Jay-Z and Steve Stoute, raved to the Post:

“The festival showcases 20 pre-eminent artists that speak to the new generation. ... It is going to be born through Jay-Z’s perspective … how he puts the event together. … Jay stayed the king for a very long time. … I can’t even begin to explain how he is capable of remaining relevant. He is a phenom, like a musical Michael Jordan.”

Hard to argue. Jay-Z actually appeared in a concert film Fade to Black in 2004, which had an electric cameo by the artist’s wife, Beyonce. This project, however, sounds a lot closer in nature to Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, where Michel Gondry captured multiple artists gathered for the benefit of one entertainer, giving audience members a broad spectrum of talent for the price of one movie ticket.

What’s interesting, as well, is that this will mark Howard’s first foray into documentary filmmaking after more than three decades behind the camera. Again, Howard isn’t the first narrative-film director to try his hand at a documentary. But it will be fun to see how different his style might be when he isn’t in complete control of the action. What do you think? Is he the right director for the project? And how does he have time to shoot this when he’s supposed to be editing Rush for a September 2013 release date?

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.