Broadway? Bigscreen? ‘Blue Highway’ Preps for Both

Broadway? Bigscreen? 'Blue Highway' Preps Both

Projects to be jointly funded by one $4 million budget, including $500,000 in crowdfunding

There are a couple of well-established paths to Broadway for a new play. “Blue Highway” isn’t taking any of them.

The new work by David Marlett (pictured at left) is being developed simultaneously as a play and as an indie film, with Off Broadway vet Mitchell Maxwell shepherding a Rialto staging he hopes to get up by the fall, and Hollywood-based Richard Middleton (“The Artist”) (pictured at right) pulling together a movie version he aims to start filming next spring.

Both the legit production and the film will draw from the same funding pool, currently being raised, of around $4 million. Producers hope at least $500,000 of that will come via crowdfunding.

They even talk about a potential documentary to chronicle to story’s road to stage and screen, plus the possibility of casting overlap for the four leads of the play and of the film (although they acknowledge the latter’s a longshot).

Marlett, also an attorney and a CPA who is the topper of crowdfunding consulting firm BlueRun Media, first wrote the story as a screenplay, but he saw stage potential in the contained tale of the aftermath of a car accident on a lonely road. So along with film types like Middleton (“Hitchcock”), Marlett also showed the screenplay to stage veteran Maxwell, who over his career owned a number of Off Broadway venues and produced a string of titles (“Dinner with Friends,” “Oleanna”). “They both responded independently and both wanted to move on it,” Marlett said.

Maxwell, who’s begun a conversation with one theater owner about a potential Broadway berth, was game for the unusual production plan. “It’s hard to grab the public’s attention, and any edge you can get to stand out you should grab onto,” said Maxwell, who’s co-directing the stage version with Marlett, helmer of the movie incarnation.

Middleton also sees potential benefits in a play hitting the stage ahead of the movie version. “The idea of having the play go first seemed like a good opportunity to work out the kinks and find out what works,” he said.

There’s always the possibility the play tanks, but Middleton isn’t concerned. “Just because the play doesn’t work doesn’t mean the movie won’t,” he said.

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  1. The concept of a play-movie dyad is innovative, if a little naive. Should the play fail, this could have a deleterious affect upon potential sale of the film version among distributors. In addition, the film version will always (and should always) be expansive and more often at greater length. Not quite apples and oranges, adapting a play to film normally refreshes the material, as well as in the reverse. To imagine this side-by-side approach (or in tandem) is to wonder if the end result will be an overlapped, layered or mashed-up effect upon the potential play and film. Both are nortoriously expensive and complicated to produce when done well. The budget seems to small. But this may just work out.

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