He is the campaigning film-maker who exposed McDonald’s contribution to obesity by gorging on Big Macs, then tried to track down Osama Bin Laden.
But Morgan Spurlock appears to have set social commentary aside after agreeing to direct a 3D film following the pop sensations, One Direction.
Simon Cowell, the boyband’s mentor, announced an unlikely partnership with the documentary maker, who received an Oscar-nomination for Super Size Me, the 2004 film which detailed Spurlock’s physical deterioration after existing on a diet of McDonald’s food for 30 days.
Spurlock, 42, will film One Direction, the X Factor-created quintet who have sold more than 13 million records worldwide, as they prepare for and then perform a sell-out concert.
Sony will release the film through its TriStar Pictures division over the Labor Day weekend next August, traditionally the date when major studios launch their big Summer releases.
The group, featuring teen heart-throb Harry Styles, generated Beatlemania-style scenes when they toured the United States. Their album Up All Night became the first debut by a UK group to top the Billboard chart.
“This is an incredible opportunity and an amazing moment in time for the band,” said Spurlock. “To capture this journey and share it with audiences around the world will be an epic undertaking that I am proud to be a part of.”
If anyone can make the manufactured group appear three-dimensional it could be Spurlock, who said that he has made a career out of pursuing “great bad ideas”.
The West Virginia film-maker followed the low-budget Super Size Me with his fruitless search for the world’s most wanted terrorist, Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?, in 2008.
Spurlock’s partnership with Sony represents an accommodation with the corporate interests he satirised in his 2011 film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
The documentary, about product placement and sponsorship in film and television, was part-funded by the director’s blatant attempt to “sell-out” by getting sponsorship to fund the project.
Pepsi, which declined to sponsor Spurlock’s film, has signed a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with One Direction, who will perform at the Pepsi Centre in Denver next Summer after filming a US commercial featuring a number of American Football stars, for the drinks brand.
“Why should these companies want to change?,” Spurlock asked during Super Size Me. “Their loyalty isn't to you, it's to the stockholders. The bottom line: They're a business, no matter what they say. And by selling you unhealthy food, they make millions.”
It is not clear whether Spurlock, who likes to have a central role in his documentaries, will share screen space with One Direction, the musical equivalent of disposable fast food to their critics.
But Cowell, who moulded the group during the 2010 series of X Factor, promised that Spurlock would have the freedom to produce a “warts-and-all” documentary.
He said: “I’m delighted we're making this film and Morgan is the perfect person to give that access-all-areas, behind-the-scenes look into what it’s like to be One Direction today. What the band have achieved is incredible, they and their fans have made history around the world - this is for them.”
The 3D live film has become a lucrative rite of passage for pop sensations. One Direction’s film follows the success of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, a behind-the-scenes, 3D concert movie following the Canadian teen idol, which grossed £46 million on an £8 million budget last year. A 3D Katy Perry concert film took £16 million.
Spurlock, who wrote and presented a 20th anniversary documentary about The Simpsons, will work with Ben Winston, a British producer who directed a 3D concert film starring the UK boyband JLS.
Hannah Minghella, daughter of the late director Anthony, will oversee the Anglo-US production in her role as President of production at Columbia Pictures.
Whether Spurlock has chosen the right direction, only the audience will decide. “The biggest thing for me with the films that I make is I want people to leave the theatre making up their own minds,” he recently said. “I want you to decide: is this a good thing or is this a bad thing?”