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Film News Roundup: Reese Witherspoon to Team With MGM on ‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’

In today’s film news roundup, Reese Witherspoon is collaborating with MGM, Jonathan Nolan gets an honor for visual effects, canine comedy “Patrick” finds a home and Forrest Films launches as a distributor.

STUDIO ATTACHMENT

Reese Witherspoon is teaming with MGM to produce a movie version of Gail Honeyman’s bestselling novel “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”

Witherspoon and Lauren Levy Neustadter will produce for their Hello Sunshine production company, which picked up the rights last year. The book is the winner of the 2018 Costa Debut Novel Award and is told from the point of the protagonist, a socially awkward 29-year-old in Glasgow, Scotland, with suppressed memories of a brutal childhood. The adaptation is being written by Liz Hannah, who wrote Steven Spielberg’s “The Post.”

“Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” is a potential star vehicle for Witherspoon but no deal has been signed and no director is attached. Witherspoon is starring for MGM in “Legally Blonde 3,” which has been set for release on Feb. 14, 2020. The MGM news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

NOLAN HONORED

Popular on Variety

The Visual Effects Society has named writer-director-producer Jonathan Nolan as the next recipient of the VES Visionary Award.

The honor will be presented at the 17th Annual VES Awards on Feb. 5 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. The award, bestowed by the VES board of directors, recognizes an individual who has uniquely and consistently employed the art and science of visual effects to foster imagination and ignite future discoveries.

“Jonathan Nolan has been at the forefront in utilizing visual effects to tell remarkable, highly nuanced stories that change the way we think about what is possible to achieve,” said Mike Chambers, board chair. “Jonathan has an innate sense of how to use visual effects intelligently to bring his creative visions to life. As a major force in film and television, he has written, produced, directed and contributed to some of the most compelling and unforgettable narratives in filmed entertainment.”

Previous winners of the VES Visionary Award have been Victoria Alonso, Syd Mead, J.J. Abrams, Alfonso Cuarón, Ang Lee and Christopher Nolan.

ACQUISITION

Screen Media has bought U.S. and Canadian distribution rights to the canine comedy “Patrick,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The movie stars Beattie Edmondson as a woman unlucky in love. She inherits Patrick the pug, who turns her life upside down. Written and directed by Mandi Fletcher, “Patrick” reunites real-life mother and daughter, Jennifer Saunders and Edmondson on screen, alongside Ed Skrein.

“Patrick” will be released in at least 100 theaters domestically on Feb. 11 for one-day-only special engagements, and then will be in select theaters and available on demand starting Feb. 15. The deal was negotiated by Seth Needle at Screen Media, with Brian O’Shea at The Exchange on behalf of the filmmakers.

“’Patrick’ is one of the cutest, most feel-good films to come along in a long time,” said Needle. “As a pet owner, I couldn’t help but get wrapped up in its charm, and appreciate the valuable relationship.”

DISTRIBUTOR LAUNCHES

Forrest Lucas, founder and owner of Lucas Oil Products and Ali Afshar will begin releasing movies in 2019 under the Forrest Films banner.

ESX Productions, the film development, production and financing banner that Lucas and Afshar established in 2015, will fold into Forrest Films with actress/producer Christina Moore joining the Forrest Films producing team. Moore has produced seven films with Afshar and Lucas to date.

Veteran distribution executive Scott Kennedy has been hired to oversee the distribution efforts. The 2019 titles include “Ride,” starring Chris “Ludacris” Bridges; “Bennett’s War” starring country music star Trace Adkins, Michael Roark and Allison Paige; the romantic drama “Roped” starring John Schneider; “American Fighter” starring Tommy Flanagan; “Lady Driver” starring Sean Patrick Flanery; “The Stand at Paxton County” starring Christopher McDonald; and “Wheels of Fortune” starring Jeff Fahey.

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