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Feb 18, 2020

Boeing 737 Max documentary will bring fresh scrutiny to crisis

David Burrows discusses Boeing

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Imagine Entertainment and filmmaker Rory Kennedy are working on a documentary about the two crashes of Boeing Co.’s 737 Max that killed almost 350 people — and thrust the airplane maker into a crisis it has yet to recover from.

The film will examine the aftermath of the deaths, based on first-hand accounts of those affected by the crashes, according to Imagine Entertainment. News about the film was first reported by Variety.

Demand for documentaries has been surging, with streaming services like Netflix Inc. and Hulu pouring money into the increasing popular genre. They have the power to affect corporate reputations and damage careers. For example, attendance at marine theme park company SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. plummeted after the film “Blackfish” examined the deaths of orca and dolphin trainers working for the company.

The Max hasn’t flown commercially since a worldwide grounding that began March 13, following two crashes in less than five months: Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 off the coast of Indonesia, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March outside Addis Ababa.

Boeing estimated last month that it will face total costs from the Max crisis of $18.6 billion, and the company is still dogged by questions about whether it could have prevented the tragedies. Its former chief executive officer, Dennis Muilenburg, was ousted in December after struggling to handle the fallout.

An Imagine representative declined to provide more details about the documentary, including a timeline or where the series will be distributed. Imagine Entertainment is run by Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer and has at least 11 other documentary projects slated, including “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week -- The Touring Years,” and “Rebuilding Paradise,” a film about the California wildfires in late 2018.