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Film News Roundup: ‘Girl Meets World’ Actor August Maturo to Star in ‘Shepherd: Story of a Jewish Dog’ (EXCLUSIVE)

In today’s film news roundup, August Maturo stars in a World War II dog story, Fox is developing fantasy thriller “Epoch Index,” and MoviePass hires a customer relations specialist.

CASTING UNVEILED

“Girl Meets World” star August Maturo has been cast as the lead character in the upcoming indie feature “Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The movie is based on the bestselling Israeli novel “The Jewish Dog” by Asher Kravitz. The film is set to be directed by Lynn Roth and produced by Howard Rosenman, a producer on the Academy Award-nominated “Call Me By Your Name.”

The story follows Kaleb, a beloved German Shepherd, who is separated from his original master, a young boy played by Maturo, and his Jewish family when the Nuremberg Laws are enacted in World War II Berlin. Kaleb is then adopted by an SS Officer, who trains him to attack and round up Jews at a concentration camp. When the boy arrives as a prisoner, the dog rediscovers his unwavering loyalty to the boy, and the two work together to escape the camp and ultimately, make a safe passage to Israel.

Maturo will also star opposite Taissa Farmiga and Demian Bichir in New Line’s upcoming horror thriller “The Nun,” due out Sept. 7.

Popular on Variety

Maturo portrayed Auggie Matthews from 2014 – 2017 on Disney Channel’s series, “Girl Meets World,” opposite Rowan Blanchard, Ben Savage, Danielle Fishel, and Sabrina Carpenter. Additional credits include guest star roles on “Teachers” for TV Land, “Weeds,” “The Odd Couple,” “Dads,” “Bones,” and “Raising Hope.” He also held a recurring co-star role on “How I Met Your Mother” for CBS.

Maturo is represented by Paradigm, Mills Kaplan Entertainment, and Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson LLP.

DIRECTOR ATTACHED

Fox has bought move rights to Christian Cantrell’s short story “Epoch Index,” with “San Andreas” and “Rampage” director Brad Peyton attached to produce and helm.

Justin Rhodes is attached to write the story of a CIA analyst tracking an assassin whose targets are being sent from the future by the analyst herself. “War for the Planet of the Apes” director Matt Reeves is producing through his 6th and Idaho company with producing partner Jeff Fierson.

Matt Reilly is overseeing for the studio. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

MOVIEPASS ALLIANCE

MoviePass has formed a partnership with customer experience specialist TaskUs and hired former TaskUs senior manager of client services, Jake Petersen, as VP of customer experience.

 “We want to ensure that all MoviePass subscribers feel that they are being heard and cared for,” MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said. “We’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of interest shown in MoviePass these last few months, and the TaskUs partnership is a continued step forward  in our customer service capabilities. Improving the customer experience is one of our top priorities as we continue developing as a company.”

Petersen worked at TaskUs, where he was responsible for building and running customer experience operations for a number of fast-growth companies. Prior to TaskUs, Petersen served as the head of professional support and acquisition for Houzz.

The MoviePass subscription service  topped the 2 million mark in subscribers a month ago. MoviePass began its growth in August when it lowered the monthly subscription fee from $50 to $9.95. The app allows subscribers to see one movie every day for a month.

MoviePass has angered the AMC movie theater chain in the wake of the subscription service’s decision to pull out from 10 of the chain’s busiest multiplexes on Jan. 25. MoviePass pays theaters the full price for a ticket, so it is in essence subsidizing its users’ moviegoing and losing money each time they check out a film. AMC, the country’s largest chain, threatened legal action against MoviePass in August and predicted that the company would fail because its business model was not sustainable.

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