The company acquired the movie — which had been titled “Good Joe Bell” — at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. The movie, which also stars Reid Miller, Connie Britton and Gary Sinise, is based on the true story of Joe Bell and his 15-year-old son Jadin, who died by suicide in 2013 after being subjected to bullying because he was gay. After his son’s death, Bell decided to walk across the country as a tribute to him.
Wahlberg is the title character and also serves as a producer. The movie is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green from an original screenplay by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, the Academy Award-winning writing team from “Brokeback Mountain.”
“The version of the film that was screened at Toronto was very promising, and after working with the filmmakers and Mark Wahlberg on a revised cut, we feel it has now reached its full potential,” said Mark Gill, president and CEO of Solstice Studios. “Thanks to a lot of hard work as well as the addition of a new original end title song from legendary songwriter Diane Warren, we believe this film now has newfound power and emotional potency that substantially elevates its very important message. We are grateful to the filmmakers and cast for bringing us the opportunity to carry on the work Joe Bell started.”
The pic currently has a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Solstice was also behind the first wide release of a movie — Russell Crowe’s “Unhinged” — during the pandemic.
Wahlberg said, “This is a story that is very important to me personally. Joe Bell is a man who didn’t understand certain things about the world until he was faced with them in his own life — as a father. As a parent myself, I know how much fatherhood can change a man. This is a story told from a very personal point of view, from the heart of a man who walked from town to town to reach families just like his, delivering a message of tolerance to people who often didn’t want to hear it at first. It shows us how a series of small steps can add up and make a big difference for the people in this country who need to know they are loved and accepted.”