Newton stars with Smith in 'Pursuit' pic

Thandie Newton will star opposite Will Smith in the Columbia Pictures drama “The Pursuit of Happyness,” directed by Gabriele Muccino.

Filming is skedded to begin shortly, with a release planned for next year.

In the pic, written by Steve Conrad (Paramount’s upcoming “The Weather Man”), Smith plays a marginally employed salesman who gains custody of his young son just as he is about to begin a stock brokerage internship program. While in the program, he and his son must live in a homeless shelter and endure many hardships as they pursue their dream of success.

Newton will portray Smith’s estranged wife.

Escape Artists and Overbrook Entertainment are producing.

Newton currently stars in Paul Haggis’ “Crash.” Other credits include Universal’s “The Chronicles of Riddick” and Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 2.”

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