It’s back to the classroom for Warner Independent Pictures.
Signaling topper Polly Cohen’s first major buy, the specialty arm has snapped up film rights to Tom Perrotta’s forthcoming book “The Abstinence Teacher,” beating out several other suitors.
Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa (“Little Miss Sunshine”) are producing through their Bona Fide Prods. The duo have a longtime relationship with Perrotta, having produced “Election” and the upcoming “Little Children,” both based on Perrotta tomes.
“Abstinence,” due out next year from St. Martin’s Press, is about a divorced sex ed teacher forced by religious conservatives to teach abstinence. While fighting for the freedom to keep touting the joys of sex, she falls for a born-again soccer coach.
Perrotta will collaborate with the director on the screenplay for “Abstinence,” much as he worked with director Todd Field in penning the screenplay for “Little Children,” which preemed at the Telluride Film Fest and opens in theaters Oct. 6.
“We read the book right away and really got it,” said Cohen, who was previously an exec VP of production at big Warners.
“It fits in perfectly with the type of material we are looking for that maybe in the past no one would have thought we’d be interested in,” Cohen said. “It’s not as satirical as ‘Election’ and ‘Citizen Ruth,’ but it’s definitely his sensibility, which we love.”
Yerxa and Berger said it is a positive sign that Warner Independent, along with John Lesher’s Paramount Vantage, are moving more into production.
“For people like us, this is very good news. Focus and Fox Searchlight have been doing this for years, but now these new parties are stepping up and aggressively entering the production fray. It’s becoming a competitive landscape,” Yerxa said.
Warner Independent’s upcoming slate includes Michel Gondry’s “The Science of Sleep,” Truman Capote biopic “Infamous” and Christopher Guest’s “For Your Consideration.”