Netflix Acquires Team Downey’s Robert Downey Sr. Documentary ‘Sr.’ With Plans for an Oscar Push This Season (Exclusive)

The portrait of a maverick indie filmmaker recently had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival and will next screen at the New York Film Festival.

by Scott Feinberg, September 26, 2022

From left: Robert Downey Sr. and Robert Downey Jr. in ‘Sr.’ Courtesy of Netflix

Sr., a documentary feature about the maverick independent filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. that was directed by Chris Smith (Fyre) and counts Robert Downey Jr. among its producers, has been acquired by Netflix and will receive a full-fledged Oscar push from the streamer this season, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Downey Jr., who attended the film’s world premiere earlier this month at the Telluride Film Festival (where THR reviewed it as “unique and affecting”), intends to hit the campaign trail on behalf of the project about his father (who died at 85 in July 2021), which will drop on the streamer before the end of the year.

The film, which explores Sr.’s life and work (he is best known for the 1969 Madison Ave. satire Putney Swope), as well as themes ranging from mortality to healing generational dysfunction (the relationship between Sr. and Jr. is prominently featured), will next screen at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 10 and 11.

Netflix and Team Downey, the production company founded by Downey Jr. and Susan Downey, previously collaborated on the fantasy series Sweet Tooth, which is heading into its second season. And Smith, a five-time Emmy nominee, previously directed the Netflix projects Fyre (a giant hit for the service), Bad Vegan, Operation Varsity Blues and Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond.

“We’re grateful to have Netflix partner with us on this highly personal project,” the Downeys, who produced the film with Emily Barclay Ford and Kevin Ford, said in a statement. “They’re the ideal home for our unconventional, oft absurd, brutally in-depth homage.”

Added Smith, “On the first day of filming, Sr. said ‘trust anything, and anything can happen’ — and that ended up being the guiding light for the project. What started as a straightforward documentary quickly devolved into anything but. Knowing what I know now, it’s really the only way you could attempt to make something on the two Downeys. Larger than life but open and human as ever, it was such a pleasure and life affirming experience to try to capture some glimpses of the highs, lows and everything in-between.”

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