CNN Films

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CNN Films
Type Division of CNN
Industry Motion picture
Film distribution
Founded 2012
Headquarters United States
Products Films
Owner(s) Turner Broadcasting System
Time Warner
Parent CNN

CNN Films is a motion picture division of CNN, originally launched in 2012.[1] Its first film Girl Rising premiered in spring 2013 in the United States.[2][3]


On October 8, 2012, CNN announced the creation of CNN Films. CNN says that it will acquire and commission original feature-length documentaries that will "examine an array of political, social, and economic subject matters." It also signed development deals with documentary directors Alex Gibney and Andrew Rossi.[4][5] Since its creation, it already acquired the rights for Girl Rising, a 100-minute documentary narrated by Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, and Selena Gomez.[6]

While the documentaries will initially air on CNN, the network reportedly plans to enter them in film festivals and distribute them to theaters as well.

At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, CNN announced the acquisition of three documentaries. It acquired the rights to air Life Itself, a film adaptation of Roger Ebert's 2011 memoir, in television. The project will be directed by Steve James and executive produced by Martin Scorsese and Steven Zaillian. It is scheduled to air in 2014.[7] The two other untitled projects are expected to air on CNN in 2013. One, from directors Michael Tucker and Petra Epperleini, centers on 9/11 and reconstructs the events at Ground Zero; the other, from director Andrew Rossi, focuses on the transformation of higher education, examining the costs and relevance of college.[8]

CNN Films bought the television rights of Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare which premiered on March 10, 2013 on CNN. The film was directed by Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke. The film premiered on January 19, 2012 at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was theatrically released on October 5, 2012.[9][10]

It recently acquired Penny Lane's Our Nixon. CNN plans to premiere the film in August, while Cinedigm will release it theatrically.[11][12][13] The network has also then acquired the domestic television broadcast rights of the Sundance film selection Robert Stone's Pandora's Promise and is slated to air on CNN on November while it will be theatrically released on June 12.[14][15]


Title Release date Director(s) Writer(s) Producer(s) Ref(s)
Girl Rising Spring 2013 Richard E. Robbins Martha Adams
Richard E. Robbins
Tom Yellin
Blackfish January 19, 2013 Gabriela Cowperthwaite Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Eli B. Despres
Manny Oteyza
Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare March 10, 2013 Matthew Heineman
Susan Froemke
Matthew Heineman
Susan Froemke
Matthew Heineman
Susan Froemke
Our Nixon August 2013 Penny Lane N/A Brian L. Frye
Penny Lane
Pandora's Promise November 2013 Robert Stone TBA Jim Swartz
Susan Swartz
Life Itself 2014 Steve James TBA Garrett Basch [17]


  1. ^ "CNN To Start Documentary Film Unit". The Huffington Post. October 8, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ Benzine, Adam (October 8, 2012). "CNN launches feature docs division with “Girl Rising”". Real Screen. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ "CNN Announces Creation Of CNN Films". Foxtel. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ Lieberman, David (October 8, 2012). "CNN Creates Unit To Acquire Documentary Films For Theaters And TV". Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ Flint, Joe (October 8, 2012). "CNN's creation of film unit is step in right direction". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Raftery, Liz (October 8, 2012). "Girl Rising to Help Launch CNN Films". TV Guide. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  7. ^ Patten, Dominic (January 18, 2013). "Sundance: CNN Films Makes Buying Debut; Announces Trio Of Documentaries". Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ Miller, Daniel (January 18, 2013). "Sundance 2013: CNN Films Announces Three Documentaries". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Patten, Dominic (March 1, 2013). "CNN Films Acquires ‘Escape Fire’ U.S. TV Rights; Healthcare Doc To Air In March". Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  10. ^ "CNN Films: ‘Escape Fire’ Debuts on CNN on March 10 at 8pm ET". CNN. March 1, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Guthrie, Marisa (April 24, 2013). "CNN Films Snaps Up Richard Nixon Documentary (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  12. ^ Fleischer, Matthew (April 24, 2013). "CNN Films acquires SXSW doc 'Our Nixon' to air on the network in August". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  13. ^ "CNN Films and Cinedigm Acquire ‘Our Nixon’". CNN. April 24, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Fleischer, Matthew (April 30, 2013). "CNN continues acquisition spree with 'Pandora's Promise'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 1, 2013. 
  15. ^ "CNN Films Announces Acquisition of ‘Pandora’s Promise’ for Fall 2013 Broadcast". CNN. April 30, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013. 
  16. ^ Kaufman, Amy (January 25, 2013). "'Blackfish' has SeaWorld in hot water". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  17. ^ Koziarki, Ed M. (February 5, 2013). "James starts doc production on Roger Ebert’s memoir". Reel Chicago. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 

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