×

Westboro Baptist Church Defector Movie in the Works From Marc Webb, Reese Witherspoon

Marc Webb has come on board to direct the upcoming feature film “This Above All,” based on the true-life story of Megan Phelps-Roper, former member of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.

Producers are Dawn Ostroff and Jeremy Steckler of Condé Nast Entertainment, Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea for Made Up Stories, Marc Webb and River Road Entertainment’s Bill Pohlad. River Road will finance.

The Topeka, Kan., church is one of the nation’s most recognized hate groups, best known its anti-gay rhetoric. The film is being adapted by Nick Hornby from Adrian Chen’s 2015 article for The New Yorker and from Phelps-Roper’s upcoming memoir.

Phelps-Roper is the granddaughter of Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church. She grew up espousing the teachings of her family, preaching God’s power and damning those who sinned.

Phelps-Roper became one of the most powerful voices on social media for Westboro, using picketing and her Twitter handle for multiple cultural events until ongoing conversations with opponents over Twitter led her to question her belief system. She and her younger sister made the decision in 2012 to leave the church, which led to being disowned by their family.

Webb’s directing credits include “The Only Living Boy in New York,” “Gifted” and the two “Amazing Spider-Man” movies. Hornby received Academy Award nominations for the adapted screenplays for “Brooklyn” and “An Education” along with “Wild.”

“Megan’s extraordinary story says so much about so many things in contemporary America, and I’m really excited about this project,” said Hornby. “I’m looking forward to working with the brilliant Marc Webb, CNÉ and with my friends Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea and River Road, with whom I enjoyed such a good relationship during the making of ‘Wild.’”

Conde Nast’s Ostroff and Steckler are producers on Robert Redford’s “Old Man and the Gun,” which will be released in April by Fox Searchlight. That movie is also based on a New Yorker article. Witherspoon was a producer on “Gone Girl” and “Wild.” River Road’s producing-financing credits include “12 Years a Slave,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Wild,” and “Tree of Life.”

The deal was negotiated by Christa Zofcin Workman for River Road with CAA representing CNÉ, Megan Phelps-Roper, Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea and Mark Webb. Hornby is repped by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Ltd. Phelps-Roper is also represented by Melissa Flashman at Janklow & Nesbit Associates. The book by Phelps-Roper will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

More Film

  • A-Beautiful-Day-in-the-Neighborhood-Trailer

    Tom Hanks Channels Mister Rogers in 'Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood' Trailer

    It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood because Sony debuted the first trailer for its Mister Rogers movie starring Tom Hanks. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is inspired by a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers (Hanks) and Tom Junod (Matthew Rhys), a cynical journalist assigned to write a profile of the long-running television host. [...]

  • For web story

    'The Burnt Orange Heresy,' With Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland, to Close Venice

    “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” starring Mick Jagger as a reclusive art dealer alongside Elizabeth Debicki (“Widows”), Claes Bang (“The Square”) and Donald Sutherland, has been selected as the Venice Film Festival closer.  The English-language art heist movie marks Italian director Giuseppe Capotondi’s first time back at Venice since 2009, when his debut feature film, the [...]

  • A woman prays at a makeshift

    Kyoto Animation Death Toll Rises to 34; Suspect Still Too Injured to Be Questioned

    Shinji Aoba, the man suspected of setting a fire that killed 34 people at the Kyoto Animation studio, remains hospitalized and too injured to be officially arrested and questioned. Police in Kyoto have obtained an arrest warrant for Aoba but cannot serve it because of his condition. Police sources have raised the death toll from [...]

  • Azania Muendane

    Locations Africa Expo Sends Message in Durban: ‘Africa is Ready’

    DURBAN–The first edition of the Locations Africa Expo and Conference was held this week during the Durban FilmMart, with an eye toward identifying and growing the opportunities to lure incoming productions to the continent. “Locations Africa is trying to service a need on the continent to discuss the physical production…on the ground, highlighting film commissions, [...]

  • The Lion King

    China Box Office: 'Looking Up' Is Surprise Weekend Winner Ahead of 'Lion King'

    Actor and comedian Deng Chao underlined his enduring popularity with mainstream Chinese audiences by delivering a surprise No. 1 box-office hit in “Looking Up” over the weekend. It scored $38.6 million in its opening frame, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway, and displaced “The Lion King” from its perch. “Looking Up” is a family [...]

  • Unathi Malonga

    Report Urges South African Media to ‘Step Up’ Against Gender Violence

    DURBAN–In a country with some of the highest rates of sexual and gender-based violence in the world, South African media must step up and play a greater role in the fight against gender inequality and gender-based violence. That was the conclusion of a report, “Gender, Diversity and Gender-based Violence in South African TV,” that was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content