“My Friend Dahmer,” one of the buzziest titles out of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, has landed a North American distribution deal, Variety has learned.
FilmRise nabbed the drama and is planning a theatrical release in the fall of 2017. Critics embraced the film when it screened in Tribeca, with Ross Lynch, a Disney Channel star, receiving particular praise for his eerie turn as a high-school age Jeffrey Dahmer.
“It’s a serious and audacious attempt to dramatize the inner life of a sick puppy when he wasn’t quite so sick,” wrote Variety reviewer Owen Gleiberman.
The film is based on an acclaimed graphic novel of the same name by Derf Backderf, a classmate of Dahmer. It’s an attempt to look at the troubled childhood of Dahmer, a serial killer who murdered 17 men and boys in the midwest United States between 1978 and 1991. In the film Dahmer is an outcast and a loner who collects roadkill and has a tortured family life. Anne Heche (“Six Days, Seven Nights”) plays Joyce Dahmer, Jeffrey’s mentally unbalanced mother, Vincent Kartheiser (“Mad Men”) is a doctor that Dahmer becomes obsessed with, and Alex Wolff (Nickelodeon’s “The Naked Brothers Band”) plays Backderf.
Marc Meyers directed, wrote and produced the picture. Meyers went to great lengths to be truthful to Backderf’s story, even managing to get permission to shoot the film in Dahmer’s boyhood home in Ohio.
In a statement, Meyers thanked Backderf for entrusting him with the story.
“It’s a powerful book, which has deeply resonated with loads of people of many ages here and abroad,” he said. “When we first met, he signed my hardcover copy, “Don’t f**k it up!!!, Derf.”
Jody Girgenti, Adam Goldworm, Michael Merlob, and Milan Chakraborty produced the film with Meyers. It was executive produced by Michael Novogratz and Giorgio Angelini. It’s an Ibid Filmworks and Aperture Entertainment production.
FilmRise is a film and TV distribution company founded by veteran producer-financiers Danny Fisher, Jack Fisher and Alan Klingenstein. Its releases include “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” “Janis: Little Girl Blue,” and “White Girl.” Its been very active in the acquisitions space recently, picking up “Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago” in partnership with CNN Films; “Manifesto” with Cate Blanchett; and “Marjorie Prime” with Jon Hamm and Tim Robbins.
“Marc has created a haunting, heartbreaking, and totally unexpected exploration of one of the most notorious figures in American crime history,” said Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, in a statement. “We are beyond thrilled to bring this powerful film — and Ross Lynch’s incredible performance as Dahmer — to audiences in the fall.”
The deal was negotiated between Fisher and FilmRise’s VP of Acquisitions Max Einhorn with United Talent Agency (UTA) Independent Film Group. Altitude Films Sales is handling international sales, and Altitude Film Distribution has taken U.K. rights with plans for a theatrical release as part of the distribution plan. Meyers is represented by UTA and Aperture Entertainment.