CNN Films
Company typeDivision
IndustryMotion picture
Film distribution
Founded2012; 12 years ago (2012)
United States
OwnerWarner Bros. Discovery

Cable News Network Films (known as CNN Films) is a motion picture division of CNN under Warner Bros. Pictures, 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]

CNN Films acquired Penny Lane's Our Nixon, and CNN premiered the film in August 2013, while Cinedigm released 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 aired it on CNN in November 2013 while it was theatrically released five months before.[14][15]

On December 10, 2020, CNN Films teamed up with the BBC to produce a documentary about the development and manufacturing of vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic. The documentary is produced by British virologist-turned-filmmaker Catherine Gale who also directs with American independent filmmaker and medical journalist Caleb Hellerman, and will air in 2021 on CNN in the United States under the tile Race for the Vaccine and BBC Two in the United Kingdom under the title Vaccine: The Inside Story.[16]


Title Release date Director(s) Writer(s) Producer(s) Ref(s)
Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie June 7, 2013 Seth Kramer
Daniel A. Miller
Jeremy Newberger
Daniel A. Miller Seth Kramer
Daniel A. Miller
Jeremy Newberger
Girl Rising June 16, 2013 Richard E. Robbins Martha Adams
Richard E. Robbins
Tom Yellin
Blackfish July 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
The Flag September 4, 2013 Michael Tucker
Petra Epperlein
Our Nixon August 1, 2013 Penny Lane Brian L. Frye
Penny Lane
Pandora's Promise November 7, 2013 Robert Stone TBA Jim Swartz
Susan Swartz
An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story December 5, 2013 Al Reinert
Sole Survivor January 9, 2014 Ky Dickens Ky Dickens Susan Aurinko
Alexis Jaworski
Amy McIntyre
41ON41 June 15, 2014 Lisa Lax
Nancy Stern Winters
Lisa Lax
Nancy Stern Winters
Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger June 27, 2014 Joe Berlinger Joe Berlinger
Caroline Suh
Life Itself July 4, 2014 Steve James TBA Garrett Basch [18]
Documented June 29, 2014 Jose Antonio Vargas
Ann Lupo
Jose Antonio Vargas Jose Antonio Vargas
Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story September 4, 2014 Mark Herzog
Sandrine Orabona
Mark Herzog
Christopher Cowen
More than a Game October 24, 2014 Kristopher Belman Kristopher Belman
Brad Hogan
Kristopher Belman
Harvey Mason, Jr.
Kevin Mann
Matthew Perniciaro
Ivory Tower November 20, 2014 Andrew Rossi Andrew Rossi Andrew Rossi
Kate Novack
Dinosaur 13 December 11, 2014 Todd Douglas Miller TBA Todd Douglas Miller
Sunshine Superman May 22, 2016 Marah Strauch Marah Strauch Marah Strauch
Eric Bruggemann
Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me June 28, 2015 James Keach James Keach
Trevor Albert
Fresh Dressed September 3, 2015 Sacha Jenkins Sacha Jenkins Nasir Jones
Marcus A. Clarke
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine September 4, 2016 Alex Gibney Alex Gibney Alex Gibney
The Hunting Ground November 22, 2015 Kirby Dick Kirby Dick Amy Ziering
Holy Hell September 1, 2016 Will Allen Will Allen
Tracey Harnish
Alexandra Johnes
We Will Rise October 12, 2016
Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray December 3, 2016 Jenny Carchman Allyson Luchak
Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago January 1, 2017 Peter Pardini Chicago
Unseen Enemy April 7, 2017 Janet Tobias Janet Tobias Janet Tobias
Peter Klein
Rogger Lopez
Michael Erhenzwei
Elián August 24, 2017 Ross McDonnell
Tim Golden
Tim Golden Alex Gibney
Trevor Birney
The Reagan Show September 4, 2017 Pacho Velez
Sierra Pettengill
Francisco Bello
Josh Alexander
Dan Cogan
Amy Entelis
Houston King
Regina Scully
Legion of Brothers September 24, 2017 Greg Barker Amy Entelis
Vinnie Malhotra
Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent November 12, 2017 Lydia Tenaglia Susan Porretta
Trophy January 14, 2018 Shaul Schwarz
Christina Clusiau
Lauren Haber
Julia Nottingham
RBG May 4, 2018 Betsy West
Julie Cohen
Betsy West
Julie Cohen
Three Identical Strangers June 29, 2018 Tim Wardle Becky Read
Grace Hughes-Hallett
American Jail July 1, 2018 Roger Ross Williams Roger Ross Williams Roger Ross Williams
Femke Wolting
Bruno Felix
Love, Gilda September 21, 2018 Lisa Dapolito Bronwyn Berry
Lisa Dapolito
James Tumminia
Apollo 11 March 1, 2019 Todd Douglas Miller Todd Douglas Miller
Thomas Petersen
Evan Krauss
Scandalous November 15, 2019 Mark Landsman
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice January 1, 2020 Rob Epstein
Jeffrey Friedman
James Keach
Michele Farinola
Rob Epstein
Jeffrey Friedman
John Lewis: Good Trouble September 27, 2020 Dawn Porter Erika Alexander
Ben Arnon
Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street May 31, 2021 Salima Koroma Salima Koroma [20]
LFG June 24, 2021 Andrea Nix Fine
Sean Fine
Andrea Nix Fine
Sean Fine
Abby Greensfelder
Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story June 27, 2021 Laura Fairrie John Battsek
Lizzie Gillett
Stuart Ford
Amy Entelis
Courtney Sexton
Mark Bell
Bonnie Voland
Andrew Ruhemann
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain July 16, 2021 Morgan Neville Morgan Neville
Caitrin Rogers
The Lost Sons September 26, 2021 Ursula Macfarlane Amy Entelis
Courtney Sexton
Ross M. Dinerstein
Liesel Evans
Gagan Rehill
Julia November 5, 2021 Julie Cohen
Betsy West
Julie Cohen
Betsy West
Justin Wilkes
Sara Bernstein
Ron Howard
Brian Grazer
Alex Prud'homme
Bob Spitz
The Hunt for Planet B November 20, 2021 Nathaniel Kahn Nathaniel Kahn
Bonnie Hlinomaz
Sandra Evers-Manly
Carleen Beste
Matt Mountain
Lawrence B. Benenson
Gerry Ohrstrom
Alberto Conti
Citizen Ashe December 3, 2021 Rex Miller
Sam Pollard
Rex Miller
Steven Cantor
Anna Godas
Jamie Schultz
Beth Hubbard
Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe
Carole King & James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name January 2, 2022 Frank Marshall Frank Marshall [29]
Navalny April 11, 2022 Daniel Roher Daniel Roher [30]
Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down July 15, 2022 Julie Cohen
Betsy West
Lisa Espramer
Sam Jinishian
Glitch: The Rise & Fall of HQ Trivia March 5, 2023 Salima Koroma Ken Druckerman
Banks Tarver
Amy Entelis
Courtney Sexton
Dylan Abruscato
Brandon Teitel
Olivia Snyder-Spak
Kevin Vargas


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  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.
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  17. ^ Kaufman, Amy (January 25, 2013). "'Blackfish' has SeaWorld in hot water". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
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  19. ^ "Sacha Jenkins Talks Art, Culture and 'The Burning of Kingston'". The Boom Box. July 8, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
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  21. ^ Day-Ramos, Dino (March 8, 2021). "HBO Max Sets Docu 'LFG' Following U.S. Women's National Soccer Team's Fight For Equality; First Teaser Released". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  22. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (August 9, 2019). "Jackie Collins Doc 'Lady Boss' Lined Up By AGC Studios, CNN Films, BBC Arts & 'Searching For Sugar Man' Outfit Passion Pictures". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  23. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (April 23, 2021). "Anthony Bourdain Documentary 'Roadrunner' Hitting Theaters This Summer". Variety. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  24. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (January 14, 2021). "CNN Films to Develop Stranger-Than-Fiction Documentary 'The Lost Sons'". Variety. Retrieved March 14, 2021.
  25. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (April 17, 2020). "Sony Classics Acquires World Rights To Julia Child Doc By 'RBG' Directors, Imagine & CNN Films". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  26. ^ "The Hunt for Planet B". CNN Creative Marketing. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  27. ^ "THE HUNT FOR PLANET B | From Director Nathaniel Kahn". The Hunt for Planet B. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  28. ^ "CNN Films and HBO Max Partner to Bring Citizen Ashe to Screens; Film is Produced by Dogwoof, Rexpix and Stick Figure Productions". CNN. July 15, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  29. ^ Petski, Denise (October 19, 2021). "Carole King & James Taylor Documentary From Frank Marshall Set For CNN & HBO Max". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 19, 2021.
  30. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 13, 2022). "Alexei Navalny Documentary Set From CNN Films & HBO Max". Deadline Hollywood.
  31. ^ Lang, Brent (January 26, 2022). "'RBG' Filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen to Direct Gabby Giffords Documentary". Variety. Retrieved April 22, 2022.
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