Levy to direct ‘Way Back’

Dobbins to exec produce Fox film

Settling on his first film after “Night at the Museum,” director Shawn Levy will begin lensing coming-of-age dramedy “The Way Back” for Fox Searchlight in mid-June from a script by tyro scribes Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.

Principato-Young is producing with Levy’s Fox-based shingle 21 Laps.

Project was greenlit at breakneck speed. Three weeks ago, neither Levy nor anyone at Fox had even heard of the script.

After pulling the screenplay from a pile of material and reading it, Levy rushed the pages to Searchlight prexy Peter Rice and Fox Filmed Entertainment chair Tom Rothman, telling them he had found his next film.

“They backed my play,” Levy told Daily Variety.

“It’s very different from the movies that I’ve done, and that’s exactly why I wanted to dive in. It’s an edgy, character-driven story,” he said.

Rash and Faxon’s script tells the poignant story of a teenage boy who comes into his own over the course of one summer though an unlikely friendship with the man in charge of a local water park. The boy is able to reconnect with his mom and find the courage to stand up to his bullying stepfather.

Along with Levy, producers are Paul Young, Peter Principato and 21 Laps’ Tom McNulty. E. Brian Dobbins at Principato-Young is exec producing.

“It is pretty thrilling to find something that feels right instantaneously. This is precisely the sort of project Searchlight adores,” said Claudia Lewis, prexy of production at the studio specialty arm.

After “Way Back,” Levy’s next directorial project is expected to be “The Hardy Men,” which is being developed for Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise. Fox also has acquired screen rights to upcoming fantasy novel “The Seems” for Levy to produce and potentially direct.

Upcoming projects for Principato-Young, which has a first-look deal with Fox, includes “Me Time,” with Jim Carrey attached to star. Firm also has “Mild Things” set up at New Line and “Worst Friends” at Warner Bros.

Levy is repped by Endeavor. Principato-Young manages Faxon in all areas and Rash as a writer. Duo are also repped by CAA.