‘ZAPPA’ Documentary in Theaters and On Demand November 27

Magnolia Pictures acquires North American rights to ‘ZAPPA’, director Alex Winter’s unfiltered portrait of the visionary musician and artist.

Magnolia Pictures announced today that they have acquired North American rights to ZAPPA, directed by Alex Winter (BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC, SHOWBIZ KIDS, THE PANAMA PAPERS). The documentary is an intimate and expansive look into the innovative life of the iconic musician and artist. Magnolia is planning to release the film in theaters and on demand November 27.

With unfettered access to the Zappa family trust and all archival footage, ZAPPA explores the private life behind the mammoth musical career that never shied away from the political turbulence of its time. Alex Winter’s assembly features appearances by Frank’s widow Gail Zappa and several of Frank’s musical collaborators including Mike Keneally, Ian Underwood, Steve Vai, Pamela Des Barres, Bunk Gardner, David Harrington, Scott Thunes, Ruth Underwood, Ray White and others.

“Alex Winter has created an amazing documentary,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “ZAPPA is an incredibly nuanced and compelling look at the visionary iconoclast and the environment that formed him.”

“This is the most ambitious project I’ve ever worked on, with a couple years of archival preservation in addition to several years to make the film itself,” said Winter. “This isn’t your typical music doc, but rather a multi-faceted narrative that aims to bring this complex artist to life. Magnolia, with its long and distinguished history of platforming great cinema, is the perfect home for ZAPPA and I am ecstatic to be partnering with them.”

“From the moment Gail Zappa said ‘yes’ to our pitch I’ve been excited for the day that we could share Alex’s film with the world, and doing so with a signature partner like Magnolia feels like the perfect conclusion to our long journey,” said producer Glen Zipper. “I can’t wait for audiences to see it.” 

“I’m thrilled Magnolia is bringing the ZAPPA movie to the world,” said producer Ahmet Zappa. “This emotional journey began with my mother’s belief in Alex Winter and he’s made an extraordinary film. I’m so grateful to the fans who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign. Their support was invaluable as is our partnership with UMG. I feel in my heart Frank and Gail would be so proud of the documentary and I can’t wait for everyone to see it!”

Directed by Alex Winter, ZAPPA was produced by Winter, Glen Zipper, Ahmet Zappa, John Frizzell, Devorah DeVries, and Jade Allen. Executive producers are Robert Halmi and Jim Reeve of Great Point Media. 


The leading independent film distributor for nearly 20 years, Magnolia Pictures is the theatrical and home entertainment distribution arm of the Wagner/Cuban Companies. Recent releases include THE FIGHT, a new documentary following a team of scrappy lawyers inside the ACLU as they battle President Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties; JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE, Dawn Porter’s timely chronicle of the life and career of the legendary civil rights activist and Democratic Representative from Georgia; Romanian crime thriller THE WHISTLERS, which world-premiered in competition at Cannes; Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard executive-produced documentary ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND; CUNNINGHAM, director Alla Kovgan’s immersive documentary on visionary American choreographer Merce CunninghamMISTER AMERICA, starring Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington; TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM, celebrating the life and career of the trailblazing literary icon; 2018 Cannes Palme d’Or winner and Oscar-nominated SHOPLIFTERS, from renowned Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda; SUPPORT THE GIRLS, Andrew Bujalski’s critically lauded film starring New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress award winner Regina Hall; Box office sensation and Oscar-nominated RBG, award-winning filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s documentary about the consequential life and legal legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Ruben Östlund’s 2017 Cannes Palme d’Or winner and Oscar-nominated THE SQUARE; and Raoul Peck and James Baldwin’s Oscar-nominated I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO. Upcoming releases include COLLECTIVE, a jaw-dropping expose of corruption at the highest levels of government; CROCK OF GOLD – A FEW ROUNDS WITH SHANE MACGOWAN, a new documentary  about the anarchic rock legend and Pogues frontman; STRAY, Elizabeth Lo’s stunning debut feature that takes a dog’s eye-view of the streets of Istanbul and the highly-regarded strays that roam them; TWO OF US, the feature directorial debut of France-based Italian filmmaker Filippo Meneghetti; and ABOUT ENDLESSNESS, Roy Andersson’s visually stunning Venice Best Director winner.


Winter entered show business as a child actor with co-starring roles on Broadway in The King & I and Peter Pan and came to prominence in movies such as Warner Bros’ hit The Lost Boys and the wildly popular Bill & Ted franchise. As a filmmaker, Winter’s narrative features include the cult classic Freaked, for 20th Century Fox and Fever, for Lionsgate, an official selection in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes.

Winter founded Trouper Productions, a company that supports his films. In 2019, Winter released two new documentary feature films; The Panama Papers, about the biggest global corruption scandal in history and the journalists who worked in secret and at great risk to break the story. A multiple award-winner, The Panama Papers is executive produced by Laura Poitras, opened to a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is out now on Hulu, Amazon Prime and Epix in the US. Trust Machine: The Story Of Blockchain, about the rise of bitcoin and the blockchain was released last Fall and is now available on Amazon Prime.

Previous documentary work includes Deep Web, about the online black market Silk Road, and the trial of its creator Ross Ulbricht. The film premiered on the Epix network, opening as the #1 documentary on iTunes and earning a Cinema Eye nomination among several award wins. Deep Web is now available for streaming and VOD.  Downloaded is a VH1 RockDoc about Napster and the digital revolution. The film premiered at SXSW, garnering worldwide critical acclaim at theatrical and festival screenings, and is available for digital download from all major outlets, free streaming on AOL in the US.

Zappa, the first all-access documentary on the life and times of Frank Zappa was set to premiere at the 2020 SXSW film festival. The Kickstarter campaign for this project was the highest funded documentary in crowdfunding history. 

Winter’s Showbiz Kids documentary feature for HBO, produced by frequent collaborator Glen Zipper and Bill Simmons’ Ringer Films, premiered July 14th on the network and is now available through HBO GO, HBO NOW, and on HBO via HBO Max and other partners’ platforms. The highly anticipated third installment in the Bill & Ted franchise, Bill & Ted Face The Music is due for release September 1st via on-demand services and limited theatrical.