Martin Scorsese’s ‘Rolling Thunder’ Bob Dylan Doc Hits Netflix June 12 (EXCLUSIVE)

Chris Willman

You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows, but Bob Dylan fans have been waiting for some kind of reliable forecast to know when “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese” might be rolling in. Here’s that storm alert: Netflix will be releasing the documentary June 12.

Concurrent with the streaming release, the film is being booked into awards-qualifying theatrical engagements in New York and Los Angeles. The thunder will roll into other cities as well. The night before the official release, Netflix has one-time “road show” theatrical showings set for 20 cities.

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Netflix is releasing some lovely key art for the long-anticipated doc, with watercolor florals adorning a vintage B&W portrait of Dylan:

The June 11 “road show” screenings will take place in London, Paris, Washington, D.C., Nashville, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Portland, Tulsa, Tempe, Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Bologna and Sydney — as well as in L.A. and New York, the two cities where the film will continue to play the following day and beyond.

Confirmation has also arrived about the much-rumored release of a CD box set of material from the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour and rehearsals, with a 14-disc, 148-track collection due from Sony on June 7.

Netflix hasn’t released many details about the content of the film, other than the previously issued logline, which says that the film “captures the troubled spirit of America in 1975 and the joyous music that Dylan performed during the fall of that year” and describes it as “part documentary, part concert film, part fever dream.”

The existence of a forthcoming box set full of music from the ’75 tour hasn’t been too closely guarded a secret, even though it wasn’t officially announced till now: A full-page ad for the set appeared in a tour program on sale at Dylan’s recent shows in Europe. And leaks of the art design spread among diehards — leaving fans to play a variation on “How many jelly beans are in the jar?,” trying to guess exactly how many CDs might fit in that box.

Now we know not just the number of discs but the actual nature of the content. The 14-CD set will include the five complete Dylan sets that were “professionally recorded” during the 1975 outing, along with, additionally, tour rehearsals captured at S.I.R. Studios in New York, said to be “recently unearthed” and to “provide the listener with an intimate insider’s seat” for the tour prep.

As for the film, any of the participants in the tour are known to have been interviewed on camera by Dylan’s manager, Jeff Rosen, over a period stretching back more than a decade. The only cast list being released for now mentions Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg (pictured above, sitting with Dylan at Jack Kerouac’s grave) and Sam Shepard, who wrote a book about the experience. Rosen is credited as producer, along with Margaret Bodde. Rick Yorn and David Tedeschi are the executive producers, with Tedeschi also serving as the film’s editor.

A full track list for the box set has been posted on a pre-order page for the CD package at Dylan’s web store. It indicates two discs of rehearsals from S.I.R., another CD of rehearsals at the Seacrest Motel in Massachusetts (all from October 1975), the five complete November/December shows from Massachusetts and Quebec (each getting two discs apiece), and, finally, a 14th CD consisting of “rare performances.” [UPDATE: The pre-order page on Dylan’s site has been taken down, apparently having been posted prematurely.]

Lest anyone think this film and audio collection leave the Rolling Thunder well dry, they leave untouched the somewhat distinct 1976 Rolling Thunder Revue, which might merit its own box set some year (if CDs survive that long), although it’s unlikely that a decade will ever be spent crafting a separate documentary about that tour.

 

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