The streamer has picked up the cowboy tale after it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Netflix will release the film in 2021.
“Concrete Cowboy” follows 15-year-old Cole (Caleb McLaughlin), who discovers the world of urban horseback riding when his mother sends him to live with his estranged father, Harp (Elba) in North Philadelphia. Jharrel Jerome, Lorraine Toussaint, Byron Bowers and Clifford “Method Man” Smith also star in the film, which is based on the real-life horsemen of the Pennsylvania area and the novel “Ghetto Cowboy” from G. Neri. Filmmaker Ricky Staub makes his feature-length debut with the project, written with Dan Walser. Elba and Philly native Lee Daniels are among the producers of the film.
“For a long time, there’s been a real sort of mistelling of history around Black people and horses and cowboys and whatnot,” Elba told Variety in an interview during the festival. “It feels really apt to be able to tell a part history that’s been definitely buried, and in the case of ‘Concrete Cowboy,’ that history is right now. Those stables — they face being taken away forever and, part of what Ricky said to me was that, ‘I’m hoping that we made this movie and they keep the stables, based on the fact that people fall in love with the story and history and heritage of the stables.’”
On working with Elba in the movie, McLaughlin said, “It definitely was a dream come true being introduced to the project [and] finding out that Idris was playing my father. Who wouldn’t want Idris to play your father in a movie?”
He continued, “I definitely was intimidated coming onto set because I wanted to be on my A-game. I look up to Idris and all of his work; he’s a seasoned actor and everything. But he made me feel very comfortable being on the set and communicating and the dynamics between the father and son relationship. It was a lot of fun working with him.”
Tucker Tooley Entertainment financed the project; Tooley also produced with Jeff G. Waxman, Jennifer Madeloff and Walser. Exec. producers are Greg Renker, Jason Barhydt, Gregoire Gensollen, Lorraine Burgess, Greg Neri, Sam Mercer, Tegan Jones, Staci Hagenbaugh, Alistair Burlingham, Gary Raskin.
After its TIFF debut, there was chatter that Apple and another streaming service had interest in acquiring the picture, but it is unclear if any other bids aside from Netflix were submitted.