Morgan Neville's hit film about Mister Rogers to launch on both channels days before final Oscar voting begins
HBO and PBS are giving Won't You Be My Neighbor? a big boost in the film's bid for an Academy Award.
The documentary will premiere on HBO February 9, 2019, three days before final Oscar voting begins. On the same day of the HBO premiere, Morgan Neville's film about Mister Rogers will air as a special presentation on the PBS program Independent Lens, in honor of Fred Rogers' contributions to public television. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood aired on public TV from 1968-2001, originating from PBS affiliate WQED in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Fred Rogers’ career represented a sustained attempt to present a coherent, beneficent view of how television could be used as a positive force in society.
“We’re excited to have such a great partner in HBO to help spread Fred’s message back into the world,” the director said in a statement. “And we’re especially excited that HBO has forged a unique collaboration with PBS to ensure that the film reaches the broadest possible audience in February.”
That can only help its chances with Oscar voters, although the film must first make the Oscar shortlist, which will be revealed next week. That seems a very safe bet, given the film's remarkable success at the domestic box office: it made over $22 million, becoming the most successful biographical doc of all time.
Won't You Be My Neighbor? has won numerous awards in the lead up to the Oscars, including Best Picture at the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards, Best Documentary from the Atlanta Film Critics Circle and Washington DC Area Film Critics Association, a top five honor from the National Board of Review, and the audience award at the IFP Gotham Awards.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.