Meg Ryan to Direct, Star With David Duchovny in Rom-Com Take ‘What Happens Later’

Popular on Variety

Meg Ryan will direct and star alongside David Duchovny in “What Happens Later,” an “evolved and nostalgic” take on the romantic comedy.

The film is based on the play “Shooting Star” by American playwright Steven Dietz, who also co-wrote the screenplay with playwright and novelist Kirk Lynn, and Ryan. Bleecker Street has snapped up the U.S. rights and is planning a 2023 theatrical release. London-based sales agent HanWay Films has come on board to handle international sales and distribution and will kick off sales at this month’s Cannes Film Festival.

Production will begin later this year in Bentonville, Arkansas.

“What Happens Later” is produced by Independent Spirit Award winners Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams (“Sorry to Bother You,” “I Used to Go Here”) through their Ten Acre Films, Independent Spirit Award nominee Laura D. Smith (“I’ll See You In My Dreams”), and Kristin Mann (“The Quarry”). Kerri Elder and Blake Elder of Rockhill Studios are executive producers together with Bleecker Street’s Andrew Karpen and Kent Sanderson.

The logline for the movie reads: “What if late one snowy night you came face to face with someone from your long ago? Someone who once held your secrets, because once, long ago, that person held your heart.”

The movie follows ex-lovers Willa (Ryan) and Bill (Duchovny) who are reunited for the first time since their split decades prior when they both find themselves snowed in, in-transit, at an airport overnight. Willa is still the wilful, independent spirit she once was, free of any ties, while the recently separated Bill is reassessing his life and his relationships with his estranged wife and daughter. All each of them wants is to get home but over the course of the night they find themselves at first reluctantly drawn together yet compelled to revisit their past, along with what could have been and what might well be again. But when the versions of their shared history don’t quite add up, where do they go from there?

The project marks the second directorial credit for Ryan, a doyenne of the American romantic comedy, who helmed and starred in the 2015 movie “Ithaca,” starring the late Sam Shephard and Alex Neustaedter. The actor has more recently focused on TV, starring in Lisa Kudrow’s show “Web Therapy” as Karen Sharpe.

The producers said: “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the incredible teams at Bleecker Street and HanWay alongside us as we bring this special story to the screen. We believe it’s a look at life and love that audiences the world over will relate to and hunger for in these uncertain times when connection and reconciliation feel more important than ever.”

Bleecker Street CEO Andrew Karpen added: “To be part of this team, bringing such a popular play to the big screen is a genuine privilege. We are beyond fortunate that the project is in the hands of one of the most gifted romantic comedy actors of her generation. Combined with the talent of her co-stars and producers, we are honored to be on this journey and look forward to sharing the experience with audiences next year.”

HanWay Films MD Gabrielle Stewart also said: “It is exciting to have Meg Ryan bring the weight of her experience in the genre to the director’s chair and to matchmake her with such a wonderful sparring partner in David Duchovny. This is exactly what audiences everywhere are looking for and HanWay is thrilled to be partnering once again with our friends at Bleecker Street.”

The deal was negotiated by Kent Sanderson of Bleecker Street, with Avy Eschenasy on behalf of Bleecker Street.

Ryan is represented by The Gersh Agency, Anonymous Content, and Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, P.C. Duchovny is represented by Mosaic and Nelson Davis LLP. Production is represented by Ramo Law P.C.