36films and founder Michael Cuccolo have acquired rights to produce survival drama “Not Without Hope,” which has been tied up at troubled Relativity Media for the past four years.
Cuccolo made the announcement Tuesday about the project, based on the New York Times best-seller by Nick Schuyler and Jere Longman about a 2009 boating accident that took the lives of NFL players Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith and Schuyler’s best friend Will Bleakley. Schuyler was the sole survivor after being found near death clinging to the engine mount of the capsized vessel 70 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
Shuyler’s story was the subject of an HBO Real Sports segment and a one-hour Oprah Winfrey special. His agent, Rick French, fielded numerous pitches for the movie rights before setting the project up with Mark Wahlberg and his Closet to the Hole Productions. Wahlberg held the rights for 18 months until French set the project up at Relativity Media, which attached Dwayne Johnson to play Schuyler.
Cuccolo said Johnson is no longer attached but said he is confident he will be able to quickly re-package the project with high-profile talent. He and French will produce.
The script, written by E. Nicholas Mariani, became ensnared in Relativity’s bankruptcy protection proceedings after the company filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2015, then emerged in 2016. French was able to negotiate a deal last month for the rights with Production President Brett Dahl.
“The real-life drama of Not Without Hope unfolded on a global stage and left a lasting impression,” said Cuccolo. “The story has all the human elements of a great film and is the type of story that 36films is here to tell.”
French is an executive producer on “The True Don Quixote,” starring Tim Blake Nelson and shooting in the New Orleans area.
“It has been a long and difficult journey to get this project going,” said French. “But we are confident 36films will put the pieces together that will allow us to tell Nick’s story in a way that honors the memories of his friends.”