New Line Cinema has acquired worldwide distribution rights to “Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World,” as well as the rights to adapt the documentary into a narrative film.
The narrative film has Oscar winner Julia Roberts attached to star and produce. She will produce the adaptation with partners Lisa Gillan and Marisa Yeres Gill through their Red Om Films banner.
The film will be overseen by Michael Disco and Josh Mack at New Line, with Dana Nachman exec producing along with Josh Braun and Dan Braun through their Sub/Version documentary remake label.
Warner Bros. Pictures will distribute the documentary and plans to release it in the coming year.
New Line exec VP Carolyn Blackwood said she first saw the documentary when it premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and was immediately taken by its uplifting message.
“It shows that humanity is essentially good and not bad,” said Blackwood. “In this day and age, there’s so much negativity on social media and there’s so much cynicism in the way we communicate, but this was a case of using social media for good. That was what caused this modest wish to become a phenomenon.”
The film chronicles the journey taken by the family of a young boy, Miles Scott, who captured the world’s attention when the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted his request to be his favorite superhero for a day. Scott was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia when he was 18 months old.
As part of the wish fulfillment, San Francisco turned into Gotham City, and more than a billion people, including President Obama, took to social media to cheer on Batkid with the hashtags #SfBatKid and #BatKid. People took off work to hold up signs, and city leaders got involved in the fun by acting out parts of the story. “Batkid Begins” examines how the world’s attention centered on the acts of civic altruism and how the story turned into a viral event.
Housing the documentary and the narrative film at New Line and Warner Bros. makes sense because the studio is the home of the Batman movies that inspired Scott, and DC Comics, the publisher of the Batman comics, is a sister company.
“Having it be part of the DC universe makes it feel very organic and part of the studio’s history and our DNA,” said Blackwood.
Dana Nachman directs the film. Her previous documentary “Witch Hunt,” a look at child molestation accusations in a small town, earned the grand jury prize at the 2009 Washington D.C. International Film Festival. She produced “Batkid Begins” along with Liza Meak.
New Line Cinema’s Craig Alexander and Camrin Agin negotiated the deal with CAA and Josh Braun and Dan Braun of Submarine.