‘American Utopia’ Trailer Previews David Byrne’s Stage Show Through Spike Lee’s Lens

     September 22, 2020


HBO has released the official trailer for American Utopia, the acclaimed Broadway stage show from Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. It was initially announced back in February that Spike Lee would direct a filmed version of American Utopia. We later learned American Utopia would premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

And now, with this official trailer, eager fans of Byrne, Lee, and/or incredible music documentaries can get a taste of what’s coming to HBO and HBO Max in October. The trailer keeps its focus on Byrne’s show. We get a more in-depth look at what we can expect from the structure of the show, as well as the music and creative decisions to film it. We’re also reminded in big, bold letters just how well-reviewed American Utopia is, which can be a little extra, but here, it works! I’m sold! I’m ready to watch American Utopia yesterday!

David Byrne’s American Utopia will be released on HBO and HBO Max on October 17. Watch the official trailer below. Get even more HBO Max updates here.

Here’s the synopsis and official poster for American Utopia:

American Utopia was filmed during its Broadway run at New York’s Hudson Theatre, where it received much critical fanfare and played to sold-out houses during its late 2019 to early 2020 run. Featuring David Byrne (former Talking Heads frontman) and an ensemble of eleven musicians from around the globe, the show invites audiences into a joyous dreamworld where human connection, self-evolution, and social justice are paramount. The HBO special was the Opening Night Presentation for the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, where it received tremendous critical acclaim.


The film includes choreographed, untethered performances of songs from Byrne’s 2018 Nonesuch album American Utopia, in addition to popular Talking Heads favorites such as “Once in a Lifetime” and “Burning Down the House.” Brief inter-song monologues allow Bryne to address various socio-political topics such as voter turnout, climate change, and immigration. The band’s powerful performance of Janelle Monáe’s “Hell You Talmbout” draws attention to police brutality toward Black Americans. Annie-B Parson’s choreography of the band members, who are mostly playing wireless instruments, creates a high-energy spectacle and exhilarating audiovisual experience.


Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.

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