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Film News in Brief: Jim Gaffigan, Joel Courtney Join ‘Jesus Revolution’ for Lionsgate

Jim Gaffigan
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

FRIDAY, JUNE 26

Jim Gaffigan, Joel Courtney Come to ‘Jesus Revolution

Jim Gaffigan and Joel Courtney are starring in the Lionsgate-Kingdom Story drama “Jesus Revolution,” set in Southern California in the early 1970s.

Courtney will play Greg Laurie, a counterculture teen who joined the movement and went on to start Harvest Christian Fellowship. Gaffigan will play Chuck Smith, the real-life pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, who served as a mentor to Laurie and opened his church to a generation of hippies and seekers.

Written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn, the film will be directed by Jon Gunn and produced by Kevin Downes and the Erwin Brothers. Jerilyn Esquibel is co-producing for Kingdom Story. The news was first reported by Deadline.

Gravitas Ventures Buys Salton Sea Documentary

Gravita Ventures has bought Greg Bassenian’s documentary “Miracle in the Desert: The Rise and Fall of the Salton Sea” for a Sept. 22 release.

The film follows the Salton Sea’s creation in 1905 to the environmental crisis that it faces today. “Miracle in the Desert” explores the impact as the largest lake in California begins to dry and create clouds of toxic dust that threaten the health of millions of Californians.

“The Salton Sea is a cautionary tale of ego, ambition and neglect that stand to impact the health of millions of people, many of them right here in Southern California,” Bassenian said.

Cara Gee Thriller ‘Alone Wolf’ Bought for July Release

Gravitas Venutres has bought the thriller “Alone Wolf,” starring Cara Gee and Richard de Klerk, for a July 3 release.

The movie is Charles Ehrlinger’s feature directorial debut. The film centers on de Klerk’s character living sealed in his house with walls covered in plastic and windows wrapped in paper. His life changes when he meets a girl named Town, played by Gee.

“The human tendency towards self-delusion is the theme at the heart of this story,” Ehrlinger said. “Every character chooses their truth, very selectively from their environment. Since we all do this to survive, this emotional journey to self-discovery is what extends this film past the screen and into the heart of the viewer.”

THURSDAY, JUNE 25

Ron Howard’s ‘Rebuilding Paradise’ Set for July Release

National Geographic Documentary Films has set a July 31 release date for theaters and on digital for Ron Howards’ “Rebuilding Paradise.”

For every ticket sold, $1 will go to charities supporting the town of Paradise, Calif., which was devastated by the 2018 Camp Fire. “Rebuilding Paradise” premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, was a recent selection at AFI Docs and will play next week at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The fire killed 85 people, making it the deadliest California fire ever.

“Now more than ever, we need to remember that when people come together for the greater good we can make a positive change on our shared future,” Howard said. “The passion and commitment of the people of Paradise, to one another and to rebuilding their community, is a reminder of the strength and resilience of the human spirit.”

Greenwich Enterrtainment Buys ‘Donut King’ Documentary

Greenwich Entertainment has bought North American distribution rights to Alice Gu’s “The Donut King,” which earned Special Jury Recognition for Achievement in Documentary Storytelling at SXSW.

Greenwich will release the film later this year. The film focuses on Ted Ngoy, a Cambodian refugee who arrived in Los Angeles in 1975 and built a multi-million-dollar empire. He became a hero of the Cambodian community by sponsoring hundreds of visas for incoming refugees.

“As the child of immigrant parents who came to America to seek a better life for themselves, making this film about Ted Ngoy achieving the American Dream was deeply personal for me,” said Gu. “Though The Donut King’s  story takes place in America, the immigrant experience is a common and shared experience by millions of people all over the world.”

George Romero’s Lost Film for Sale at Virtual Cannes Market

Yellow Veil Pictures has acquired worldwide sales rights for “The Amusement Park,” the formerly lost film from horror filmmaker George A. Romero, and is selling the title at the Cannes Virtual Market.

The film was recently discovered and restored 46 years after its completion by the George A. Romero Foundation and produced by Suzanne Romero. The film stars Lincoln Maazel as an elderly man who finds himself disoriented and increasingly isolated as the pains, tragedies, and humiliations of aging in America manifested through roller coasters and chaotic crowds.

Suzanne Romero said, “Though not in the horror genre, it is George’s most terrifying film. It has Romero’s unique footprint all over it!”

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24

Common, Jonny Lee Miller Join Keke Palmer’s Thriller 

Common and Jonny Lee Miller will join Keke Palmer in the historical thriller “Alice” from Steel Springs Pictures.

“Alice” is inspired by the true events of a woman of servitude in 1800s Georgia, who escapes the 55-acre confines of her captor to discover the shocking reality that exists beyond the tree line — it’s 1973. Krystin Ver Linden will make her directorial debut and helm from her own script.

Steel Springs is financing “Alice,” which will begin shooting in August in Georgia. Common won an Oscar for Best Original Song alongside John Legend in 2015 for “Glory” from the movie “Selma.”

CAA Launches Consumer Partnership Connect Ventures 

Creative Artists Agency and venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates have formed an investment partnership called Connect Ventures.

The new entity will identify and accelerate the growth of early-stage consumer-focused businesses, with an initial focus on supporting and enhancing a post-COVID-19 environment. Connect Ventures launches with an investment in Spire Animation Studios, a new feature animation studio from Brad Lewis, producer of “Ratatouille,” and media entrepreneur P.J. Gunsagar.

“Connect Ventures is uniquely positioned to identify and support the most innovative entrepreneurs, helping accelerate the growth of their businesses by providing access to the expertise, knowledge, and relationships of both CAA and NEA,” said CAA President Richard Lovett.

Charlie Plummer’s ‘Words on Bathroom Walls’ Release Set

LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions have set an Aug. 7 theatrical release for Thor Freudenthal’s “Words on Bathroom Walls,’ starring Charlie Plummer.

It will be the first theatrical release for either company since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The movie is based upon the novel of the same name by Julia Walton.

Plummer plays a high school senior with mental illness who finds a connection in Taylor Russell’s character, who inspires him to open his heart and not be defined by his mental illness. The film also stars Andy Garcia, AnnaSophia Robb, Beth Grant, Devin Bostick, Lobo Sebastian, Molly Parker and Walton Goggins.

TUESDAY, JUNE 23

Shymalan’s Next Movie Gets Summer Release Date

Universal has set a July 23, 2021, release date for M. Night Shyamalan’s untitled thriller, which stars Eliza Scanlen, Thomasin McKenzie, Aaron Pierre, Alex Wolff and Vicky Krieps.

Shyamalan will write, direct and produce the film. Like most Shyamalan movies, plot details are shrouded in secrecy and may be interconnected with his other films.

Shyamalan is independently financing the film as he did for his most recent titles — “Glass,” “Split” and “The Visit.” The trio carried a combined budget of $35 million and went on to cumulatively gross more than $600 million at the worldwide box office.

Cinema Pop-Ups Concept Debuts in Texas

Kilburn Live and The Star complex in Frisco, Texas, are unveiling Cinema Pop-Ups as a new pop up drive-in theater concept, which includes a number of social distancing protocols and brings the classic nostalgia of a drive-in movie theater.

Cinema Pop-Ups at The Star will screen “Edge of Tomorrow,” “42” and other movies from July 1 through July 12 at a cost of $25 per car.

“This is clearly a trying time for both our industry and our country, but we are thoroughly convinced people want to head back out and start reestablishing some return to normalcy while still adhering to safety protocols,” said Kilburn CEO Mark Manuel.

‘The Other Dr. Gilmer’ Movie in the Works 

Concordia Studio has acquired rights to develop and produce the feature film adaptation of “The Other Dr. Gilmer” along with Social Construct Films and Maven Screen Media.

Jennifer Fox, who received an Emmy nomination for HBO’s “The Tale,” is set to adapt and direct the film. The soon to be published book from Dr. Benjamin Gilmer centers on an unrelated small town physician, Dr. Vince Gilmer, who murdered his father in 2004 for mysterious reasons. Benjamin Gilmer continues to fight for clemency for Vince Gilmer.

“I am always looking for a great story that combines high drama and compelling characters, while illuminating the human plight,” said Fox. “I was immediately drawn to Benjamin’s wholehearted determination to save Vince, a complete stranger, and to their story, which exposes the flaws in our justice system particularly for those without money and resources.”