Kevin, Nick and Joe Jonas are back with a vengeance, and Monday night’s premiere of their documentary “Chasing Happiness” proved it. It was full Jonas Brothers pandemonium outside the Regency Bruin Theatre in Westwood, with fans lining both sides of the street and waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of the reunited band. But the brothers say they never expected the rather impressive welcome back that they’ve gotten from fans, because they weren’t expecting to be back themselves.
“We weren’t intentionally doing a comeback in this doc,” Kevin Jonas told reporters on the black carpet at the documentary’s premiere. “[But] with all the time we spend together and going through the process and finding each other again in that capacity, led to us wanting to do the Jonas Brothers again. And then of course led to new music and then the album coming out on Friday.”
Director John Lloyd Taylor told Variety that the idea for the documentary came up during a ski trip the brothers took to Mammoth where their manager Phil McIntyre suggested that they tell their story, noting that the boys weren’t initially on board to get the band back together. Taylor, who‘d served as a guitar player and later the musical director for the band, went on to praise the Jonas brothers for opening up so much.
“I’m thrilled that they were able to be so honest and so open with one another and with the world. And I think that people are going to be surprised to see that this is less of a standard music documentary, and more of a story about brotherhood and family and loyalty and love,” he said. “I was surprised that they were able to get as honest as they were with one another. I think it’s hard to do that in general. It’s hard to do that with family, and these guys went all the way there with cameras in their face and microphones on.”
Designer John Varvatos, who has collaborated with Nick on fashion ventures and also served as an executive producer on the doc, was also surprised by how much Nick shared, saying that he’s a “pretty private guy.”
“He thought it was important at this point in time in his life for the brothers,” Varvatos added. “It was a way for them to get to spend some time together and really re-explore what really happened. And I think through it all they found what they miss the most wasn’t a success. They missed the bond of the brothers.”
Celeb super fans like “The Bachelor’s” Ashley Iaconetti (who has seen the JoBros in concert a whopping 29 times), “Dark Phoenix” star Alexandra Shipp, and fellow musicians like Jordan McGraw and Tori Kelly were among the guests at the premiere.
“I feel like we grew up on the Jonas Brothers too – there’s a certain age that’s like, ‘That’s my childhood.’ The fact that they’re back together after a little break, I feel like that’s so rad,” Kelly said, telling Variety that she saw the Jonas Brothers during their Camp Rock tour with Demi Lovato before becoming a Grammy-winning artist herself. “Every time I run into them, they’re so genuine and so awesome, and I think the fact that they’re putting out a movie like this is so cool.”
Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke said the studio is also relishing the excitement around the Jonas documentary, explaining that the streamer scooped up the doc after Nick’s wife Priyanka Chopra Jonas gave her an early look at four minutes of footage.
“It’s a story about family, and what that kind of fame at a young age can do to a family, and how these guys always come back to family,” Salke told Variety. “It’s about that complicated sibling relationship and coming up in this unusual situation and then pulling together for what’s most important to them – which is making music together, as brothers.”
The documentary tells the story of the boys’ humble beginnings in New Jersey, through their rise to fame, to finally revealing what ultimately broke them up as a band and very nearly as brothers in 2013. The brothers lay it all on the line – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Taylor pointed to a moment at the beginning of the film, where the brothers gathered in Australia to play together for the first time as being particularly contentious.
“They hadn’t played together in many, many years and they were just starting to feel comfortable with holding each other accountable,” he recounted. “Kevin’s trying to communicate with Nick, and Nick is being a little stubborn, and Joe is playing the moderator there. And that was a really kind of almost tense moment that I was like, ‘Are these guys going to get into it right now with the cameras?’”
Taylor says that they scrubbed through more than a “couple hundred hours of footage” to compile material for the documentary – thanks to lots of archival family footage from the Jonas’ parents and grandparents, as well as home movies made by the boys and the band while they were touring in their early days.
“There’s a lot of stuff that got left on the cutting room floor, but I think we told the best story in the best way that we could,” Taylor said. “There were people sharing stories to me that broke my heart to hear.”
At the premiere, the trio watched the film about their lives from seats in the center of the Bruin theater, listening to the audience react as they made deeply personal revelations on screen. After the screening, the brothers took the stage to perform some of their hits like “Burnin’ Up,” “S.O.S,” “Hold On”, and their newest single “Cool.” Before playing their first ever #1 hit, “Sucker,” the guys took a moment to point out and praise their wives, Danielle Jonas, Sophie Turner, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas — who refer to themselves as the “J Sisters” and danced along the wings of the stage. Varvatos noted that he’d seen a change in Nick since he became married in 2018, but also since reuniting with his brothers.
“He’s found happiness, he really has,” Varvatos affirmed. “He’s a very young guy. He’s 26 years old, but he’s an old soul. And I think he found a happiness that a young guy should have.”
“Chasing Happiness” is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.