EXCLUSIVE: Jason Bateman, who made an auspicious feature directorial debut with the Toronto festival smash Bad Words, next will direct Nicole Kidman in The Family Fang, the adaptation of the Kevin Wilson bestseller. Bateman will also star in the film. The script is by David Lindsay-Abaire, who adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole as a vehicle that got Kidman an Oscar nomination. Olympus Pictures’ Leslie Urdang and Dean Vanech will produce with Blossom Films partners Kidman and Per Saari, Aggregate Films partners Bateman and Jim Garavente, and QED International’s Bill Block.
QED will finance, and principal photography will begin next year.
The Family Fang is about a couple of performance artists who routinely sucked their kids into taking part in a variety of bizarre events. When the full-grown children return home in a state of crisis, they are unwittingly enlisted to help in the execution of a daring and mysterious final performance by their parents, who are hellbent on achieving the act of a lifetime. Their kids harbor more than a little resentment and blame the performance art for how badly their own lives have turned out.
Bateman’s Bad Words, in which he plays a trash-talking man who finds a loophole that allows him to compete against pint-sized wordsmiths in a spelling bee, got raves at Toronto, where Focus Features beat out others to acquire world rights for $6 million in one of the festival’s biggest deals. He has been kicking the tires on this project for a while, and it became real when QED’s Block signed on with the funding. He’ll introduce it at AFM.
“We are thrilled to be working with QED and Bill Block on this, a universal story about the complex and seductive bond that ties parent and child,” said Olympus’ Urdang and Blossom’s Saari. “No filmmaker can better realize this heartbreaking and funny story than Jason Bateman. This is a dream collaboration.”
Block said he couldn’t imagine “a more poignant pairing for this hilarious and touching story than Nicole and Jason. “We look forward to partnering with Olympus and Blossom and introducing this to international buyers at AFM.”
The film becomes another hot AFM title for QED, which also will sell the Takashi Miike-directed The Outsider with Tom Hardy; the David Ayer-directed WWII film Fury with Brad Pitt; Sabotage with Arnold Schwarzenegger; the Barry Levinson-directed Rock The Kasbah with Bill Murray; the Richard Gere-starrer Franny; Fading Gigolo with John Turturro and Woody Allen; the Zac Efron-Imogen Poots-starrer That Awkward Moment, and the Mac Carter-directed supernatural thriller Haunt with Jacki Weaver. CAA reps Bateman.