×

‘Soul Surfer’ is first FilmDistrict pickup

Carrie Underwood, Dennis Quaid to topline drama

Peter Schlessel and Bob Berney’s newly formed FilmDistrict has announced its first film: Bethany Hamilton biopic “Soul Surfer,” which it will release in partnership with TriStar Pictures next spring.

FilmDistrict will fully market the film, directed by Sean McNamara and toplining AnnaSophia Robb as Hamilton. Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt and Carrie Underwood also star.

Based on the story of surfing fanatic Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack and then overcame the odds to once again become a surfing champion, the pic opens nationwide April 15.

FilmDistrict opened its doors in September. Execs said it wouldn’t always distribute its films, but instead partner with TriStar and other Sony labels.

Schlessel has strong ties to “Soul Surfer,” which he helped acquire when he headed Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions. (Schlessel left that gig to become prexy of GK Films and launch FilmDistrict.)

McNamara directed from an adapted script he wrote with Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz and Deborah Schwartz. Additional writing was done by Ron Bass, Jen Smolka and Kara Holden.

The film is based on Hamilton’s Hamilton’s memoir “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family and Fighting to Get Back on the Board.”

Berney and Schlessel said “Soul Surfer” is a perfect title for FilmDistrict, which wants to put out commercially-oriented fare. In this case, FilmDistrict is timing the film’s release to spring break.

“This is an upbeat, positive movie. I think the mood in this country is such that it is in the mood for uplifting films,” Berney said.

Pic also stars Lorraine Nicholson, Kevin Sorbo and Jeremy Sumpter.

Enticing Entertainment and Island Film Group financed the film, which was produced by Mandalay Vision, Brookwell McNamara Entertainment and Life’s a Beach Entertainment.

Sony Worldwide picked up North American and substantial international rights before the film went into production.

“My family and I are honored to be the subject of such an amazing film,” Hamilton said in a statement. “My hope that the story continues to inspire poeple around the world to overcome the challenges that face them.”

Producers are David Zelon, Douglas Schwartz, David Brookwell, McNamara and Roy “Dutch” Hofstetter. David Tice and Dominic Ianno exec produced.

More Film

  • BAFTA headquarters at 195 Piccadilly, London

    BAFTA Undertakes Major Renovation of Its London Headquarters

    BAFTA has undertaken a major renovation of its London headquarters that will double the building’s capacity and increase space devoted to the British academy’s programs to promote skills training and new talent. Work has already begun on the $31 million overhaul, which is expected to take two years. In the interim, BAFTA will relocate its [...]

  • Andhadhun

    Booming Digital Lifts Eros Indian Film Distribution Giant

    Eros International, India’s largest and most controversial film distributor, says that its digital revenues now outstrip conventional theatrical and syndication revenues. Its Eros Now streaming platform claims 18.8 million paying subscribers. The New York-listed company reported annual results that were distorted by multiple adjustments to presentation. Reported revenues in the year to end of March [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    Second Huayi Brothers Film Is Canceled as Company's Losses Mount

    Still reeling from the cancellation of the theatrical release of its blockbuster “The Eight Hundred,” production studio Huayi Brothers has been hit with another setback: Its comedy “The Last Wish” has also been quietly pulled from China’s summer lineup. Both films have fallen afoul of China’s increasingly heavy-handed censors. The unwelcome development comes as Huayi [...]

  • Sean AstinCritics' Choice Awards, Arrivals, Los

    Film News Roundup: Sean Astin Cast in 'Mayfields Game,' 'Charming the Hearts of Men'

    In today’s film news roundup, Sean Astin gets two roles, two “Peanuts” movies are set for release, “One Last Night” gets distribution and Brian De Palma gets honored. CASTINGS Sean Astin has been cast in a pair of upcoming feature films: “Mayfield’s Game” opposite Mira Sorvino and “Charming The Hearts of Men” opposite Kelsey Grammer. Astin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content