×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘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

  • Louise Courvoisier’s ‘Mano a Mano’ Wins Cinéfondation

    Louise Courvoisier’s ‘Mano a Mano’ Wins Cannes Cinefondation Selection Top Prize

    CANNES–“Mano a Mano,” by Louise Courvoisier of France’s CinéFabrique, won the first prize Thursday at the 22nd Cinéfondation Selection,the Cannes Film Festival’s top film school shorts awards. The prize was awarded by a jury headed by French director Claire Denis (“Beau Travail”). The jury also included French actress Stacy Martin (“Godard mon amour”); Israeli writer-director Eran [...]

  • The Traitor

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Traitor'

    What surprises most about Marco Bellocchio’s Mafia drama “The Traitor” is just how straightforward it is. Given its subject — Tommaso Buscetta, the highest-ranking Mafia don to sing to the authorities — there were expectations that the director would deliver a theatrical drama along the lines of “Vincere,” but notwithstanding a few operatic flourishes, his [...]

  • Perfect Strangers

    Zhao Tao, Rajkumar Hirani Join Shanghai Festival Jury

    Italian director Paolo Genovese and Chinese actress Zhao Tao are among members of the jury for the upcoming Shanghai International Film Festival. They join the previously announced jury president, 2014 Cannes Palme d’Or winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the Turkish director behind last year’s “The Wild Pear Tree.” Genovese’s 2016 film “Perfect Strangers” made $7.7 million [...]

  • ‘An Easy Girl’ Wins Cannes Directors’

    ‘An Easy Girl’ Wins Cannes Directors’ Fortnight French-language Movie Prize

    CANNES  —  One of France’s most highly-regarded young women filmmakers, Rebecca Zlotowski, has won the Directors’ Fortnight prize for best French-language movie for “An Easy Girl,” a sensual coming of age tale set on France’s Cote d’Azur. From reviews published to date, “An Easy Girl” marks a return to form for Zlotowski after the disappointment [...]

  • The Secret Life of Pets 2

    Film Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’

    Illumination’s “The Secret Life Of Pets” films do something the “Despicable Me” studio’s other offerings have yet to accomplish: They allow younger audiences to explore their feelings about new life experiences in a silly, lighthearted way through the travails of adorable animated animals. Despite being an overly loud and caustic clone of “Toy Story,” the [...]

  • Chris Hemsworth (H) with Em (Tessa

    'Men In Black: International' Heads for $40 Million Opening

    Sony’s action comedy “Men in Black: International” is heading for a $40 million launch in North America on the June 14-16 weekend, early tracking showed Thursday. New Line’s opening of its “Shaft” sequel, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher and Richard Roundtree, should wind up in the $18 million range during the same frame, [...]

  • Shailene Woodley probation Dakota Pipeline protest

    Cannes: Shailene Woodley's 'Misanthrope' Bought for China Release

    Chinese sales and distribution company Infotainment China Media has bought the China rights to “Misanthrope,” the new serial killer thriller starring Shailene Woodley. The deal was concluded with FilmNation Entertainment on the margins of the Cannes Film Festival. Woodley (“Big Little Lies”, the “Divergent” franchise”) will play a cop recruited by the FBI to hunt [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content