×

In today’s film news roundup, Shania Twain has a new role, the Russo Brothers board an action comedy, MoJo launches, the Academy names three new governors and a Canadian film fund is unveiled. 

CASTINGS

Shania Twain, Britt Robertson, Melissa Roxburgh, and Nathan Dean Parsons will star opposite KJ Apa in “I Still Believe,” Lionsgate’s faith-based biopic about Christian music star Jeremy Camp.

Twain will play Jeremy Camp’s mother Terry Camp. Robertson will play Melissa Henning, who married Jeremy Camp in 2000, while Roxburgh will play Melissa Hennning’s older sister and Parsons will play a rock star friend who mentors Jeremy Camp.

Brothers Jon and Andrew Erwin, and producing partner Kevin Downes are reteaming with the studio following the success of their 2018 faith-based film “I Can Only Imagine,” which grossed $85 million worldwide. It’s the first project coming out of their film and TV first-look deal with Lionsgate, announced earlier this year.

“I Still Believe” starts shooting this month in Alabama and will open on March 20, 2020. The Erwin brothers will direct from a script by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn.

RUSSOS PRODUCING

“Avengers” franchise directors Joe and Anthony Russo are set to produce the action comedy “Down Under Cover,” starring Chris Hemsworth and Tiffany Haddish.

The Russos will produce with Mike Larocca under their Agbo banner, along with Haddish and Thematic Entertainment — which includes Hemsworth, John Finemore, James Hoppe and Ben Grayson. CAA Media Finance is repping domestic rights and FilmNation is handling international sales.

Peter Hoare’s script centers on a pair of detectives going undercover to solve a series of casino heists in which the suspects are a troupe of Australian male erotic dancers. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

NEW COMPANY

Shoreline Entertainment CEO Morris Ruskin and filmmaker Jordan Walker-Pearlman have formed MoJo, a new production, finance, and management company, Variety has learned exclusively.

MoJo said it will take advantage of Ruskin and Walker-Pearlman’s combined 60 years of experience in the film industry to produce and package independent films and television. Ruskin will remain the majority owner of Shoreline Entertainment. Sam Eigen and Steve Macy will continue to run Shoreline strictly as a sales and distribution company.

Joseph Mellicker, who is also an executive producer of “Ladies in Black,” is also an active partner in MoJo. Former Shoreline manager Alex Flores will run the Latinx division at MoJo. Shoreline manager Doug Warner and director of development Charles Hopkins are also joining MoJo, along with actor-producer Hill Harper, former HBO executive Tracey Kemble and former deputy city attorney of Los Angeles Gordon E. Turner, who will be in-house legal and head of compliance.

 “It’s the best time to join forces, we’ve had each other’s back for 20 years and there has never been a higher demand for quality content with, finally, real strides in organic and inclusive storytelling all over the world,” said Walker-Pearlman.

ACADEMY GOVERNORS

The Academy of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has appointed three new governors-at-large: DeVon Franklin (Executives Branch), Rodrigo García (Directors Branch) and Janet Yang (Producers Branch).

They will each serve a three-year term, beginning July 1. This furthers the Academy’s A2020 initiative, which seeks to support inclusion and increase representation within its membership and the greater film community.

The Academy’s 2019-2020 Board of Governors will be announced in June.

FILM FINANCING

A quintet of producers — William Woods, Tom Spriggs, Rob McGillivray, Ben Stranahan and John Hansen — are launching Line 200 Inc. as a film fund.

The fund will invest in international co-productions and Canadian feature film projects produced under the Woods Entertainment Prodco. The fund will invest equity into feature films up to 30% of the total budget into one or two films per year over the next five years.

“Castle in the Ground,” directed by Joey Klein and starring Alex Wolff, Imogen Poots, Neve Campbell, Keir Gilchrist and Tom Cullen, is the first film to be financed by Line 200 Inc. and is currently in post-production.