You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Sunshine’ repeatedly rejected before getting made

Producers with the noms: Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa

“The buzz got out that it was actually good,” says “Little Miss Sunshine” producer Marc Turtletaub of the weeks preceding Sundance 2006, when the long-gestating project suddenly became Utah’s hottest commodity. “The film had only been seen by the actors and their agents, but we were hearing from some of the studios’ specialty divisions that they’d be interested in purchasing the movie, sight unseen.”

What a difference five years makes. It was 2001 when Turtletaub and his Deep River partner David Friendly first read Michael Arndt’s repeatedly rejected script, brought to them by Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa of Bona Fide Prods. The four met with Arndt and quickly took up the reins.

“We made the commitment that we would find a way to make the movie if no studio were interested,” Turtletaub says.

That commitment turned out to be prophetic. With directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton attached, the foursome finally secured an interested studio and set up the project at USA Films. Yet after three years of development purgatory and USA Films’ morphing into Focus Features, “it became apparent that it was not going to get made,” Turtletaub says.

Earlier that year, Turtletaub had established Big Beach Prods. with Peter Saraf. “The first thing Marc showed me was ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ which was the project that was his favorite,” Saraf recalls.

With Saraf onboard as well, the five producers bought back the rights to Arndt’s screenplay from Focus, and from there “everything went along pretty smoothly,” Turtletaub says.

Which is not to say the now-independent production didn’t have a few concerns, such as the harsher elements of the script that had previously turned off so many studios.

“It’s probably the first R-rated family movie I know of,” says Turtletaub. “It’s got drug use and language. We talked about whether we should shoot it PG-13. Fortunately we came to our better senses.”

More Film

  • 'A Quiet Place' to Top Amy

    Box Office: 'A Quiet Place' Topping Amy Schumer's 'I Feel Pretty'

    “The buzz got out that it was actually good,” says “Little Miss Sunshine” producer Marc Turtletaub of the weeks preceding Sundance 2006, when the long-gestating project suddenly became Utah’s hottest commodity. “The film had only been seen by the actors and their agents, but we were hearing from some of the studios’ specialty divisions that […]

  • Melissa McCarthy The Kitchen

    Melissa McCarthy's 'Superintelligence' Set for 2019 Holiday Release

    “The buzz got out that it was actually good,” says “Little Miss Sunshine” producer Marc Turtletaub of the weeks preceding Sundance 2006, when the long-gestating project suddenly became Utah’s hottest commodity. “The film had only been seen by the actors and their agents, but we were hearing from some of the studios’ specialty divisions that […]

  • Super Troopers 2

    'Super Troopers 2': Can Stoner Sequels Find Success After Legalization?

    “The buzz got out that it was actually good,” says “Little Miss Sunshine” producer Marc Turtletaub of the weeks preceding Sundance 2006, when the long-gestating project suddenly became Utah’s hottest commodity. “The film had only been seen by the actors and their agents, but we were hearing from some of the studios’ specialty divisions that […]

  • Liz Garbus The-Fourth-Estate Documentary

    Toronto's Hot Docs Celebrates 25 Years of Truth-Telling Documentaries

    “The buzz got out that it was actually good,” says “Little Miss Sunshine” producer Marc Turtletaub of the weeks preceding Sundance 2006, when the long-gestating project suddenly became Utah’s hottest commodity. “The film had only been seen by the actors and their agents, but we were hearing from some of the studios’ specialty divisions that […]

  • giovanni ribisi First Time in Variety

    'Sneaky Pete' Star Giovanni Ribisi Looks Back on Days as a Child Actor

    “The buzz got out that it was actually good,” says “Little Miss Sunshine” producer Marc Turtletaub of the weeks preceding Sundance 2006, when the long-gestating project suddenly became Utah’s hottest commodity. “The film had only been seen by the actors and their agents, but we were hearing from some of the studios’ specialty divisions that […]

  • Josh Gad Jason Sudeikis

    Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad to Return for 'Angry Birds Movie 2' Voice Cast

    “The buzz got out that it was actually good,” says “Little Miss Sunshine” producer Marc Turtletaub of the weeks preceding Sundance 2006, when the long-gestating project suddenly became Utah’s hottest commodity. “The film had only been seen by the actors and their agents, but we were hearing from some of the studios’ specialty divisions that […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content