LOS ANGELES, CA, January 17, 2013 – Bill Pohlad, Academy Award® nominated producer, is set to direct Love & Mercy with Paul Dano (Looper, Ruby Sparks, There Will Be Blood) starring as legendary musician Brian Wilson in his early years. Pohlad is also casting an actor to play Brian Wilson later in his life.
Academy Award® winning composer Atticus Ross (The Social Network) is in talks to work on the sound design of the film and the soundtrack, which will include the music of Brian Wilson.
EXCLUSIVE: After seeing so many of his novels turned into films, Nick Hornby is taking on the work of a peer. He has signed to write the script for Wild, the bestselling Cheryl Strayed memoir that Pacific Standard’s Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea have set up with River Road Entertainment’s Bill Pohlad. Witherspoon and Papandrea will produce with Pohlad, who’ll finance development.
In Wild, Strayed tells the inspiring story of a woman who tries to rebuild her shattered life by taking on a mission not seen in film since Forrest Gump ran across the country. Traumatized by the death of her mother and then the breakup of her marriage, Strayed made the impulsive decision to try regaining her mojo by taking on an 1100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. Despite no experience in long-distance hiking, she succeeded and in the process pulled herself back together. Wild is among several female-driven projects that Witherspoon and Papandrea have put in development since they formed Pacific Standard last March; others include the Gillian Flynn novel Gone Girl, Mitch Larson’s Pennyroyal’s Boot Camp, and Pharm Girl. Just as important, Wild creates an opportunity for Witherspoon to play a strong heroine, the role she shines in most brightly. Read More »
River Road Entertainment has acquired the rights to Pulitzer Prize finalist Greg Grandin’s Fordlandia: The Rise And Fall Of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City. Screenwriter Ben Coccio, who most recently penned Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, will write the script. River Road’s Bill Pohlad will produce.
The 2009 book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The film will be based on the experiences of the American men who carried out the imperialistic ambitions of Henry Ford to build a utopian American industrial town in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. More than a cautionary tale of a tycoon’s ill-fated attempt to force order on nature, Fordlandia reasons that the forces of capitalism, once released, cannot be contained.
Christa Zofcin negotiated the deals on behalf of River Road. Author Greg Grandin is represented by APA and the Susan Rabiner Agency. Ben Coccio is represented by CAA and Media Talent Group.
EXCLUSIVE: Bill Pohlad’s River Road Entertainment has optioned screen rights to the Joanna Smith Rakoff novel My Salinger Year, and has set Emma Forrest to write the script. Smith Rakoff’s novel, which will be published by Knopf in the winter, is inspired by the author’s own experiences as a college grad who takes a clerical job at the agency that repped famed author J.D. Salinger. The novel deals with an unexpected relationship she developed with the iconic author as she stood as a barrier between him and his adoring public, guarding the reclusive author’s privacy and answering letters that Salinger demanded not to see.
Forrest has an affinity for adapting a book based on the author’s story. She adapted her memoir, Your Voice In My Head, a project that is a priority at Warner Bros with Harry Potter‘s Emma Watson attached, even though David Yates recently dropped out. That book was about her own experiences of losing the psychiatrist who helped her through all kind of personal turmoil when he died of lung cancer without ever telling his patients he was ill. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: River Road Entertainment optioned screen rights to The Age of Miracles, a first novel by Karen Thompson Walker that sold in a 7-figure deal to Random House and 24 international territories. Hanna scribe Seth Lochhead has been set to write the script. The film will be produced by River Road principal Bill Pohlad, who is nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.
To be published June 26, The Age of Miracles is set amidst an advancing catastrophe after the Earth’s rotation inexplicably slows. The novel covers a young girl’s adolescence, a poignant family drama and a heartrending glimpse into the everyday tragedies and triumphs that occur at a time when the world might be ending. The book was brokered by WME, which reps the author and Lochhead. The scribe’s managed by Circle of Confusion. River Road’s Christa Zofcin made the deal and production exec Sarah Hammer is overseeing it.
EXCLUSIVE: After opening Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life in the U.S., Fox Searchlight presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula have acquired the U.K. rights to the film from Bill Pohlad’s River Road Entertainment, which financed the film. They’ve dated the film for July 8 opening in the U.K. The film, which stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, opened right after it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Its four screen average of $93,230 per theater beat Searchlight’s launch of Black Swan. The film has added eight markets and will add another 12 this week to a total of 22.
“We knew this was an amazing film from the moment we saw it,” Gilula and Utley said. Pohlad added: “Fox Searchlight has been an extraordinary partner distributing our film in the United States, so we’re thrilled to have them release The Tree of Life in the United Kingdom, allowing international audiences to experience Terry’s beautiful and affecting masterpiece.” Pohlad produced the film with Sarah Green, Pitt, Dede Gardner and Grant Hill.
I saw the film at its Cannes premiere, where I think I actually glimpsed Malick as he took in the cheers. Much like Pohlad said in an interview we did about the long road to bring that film to the screen, it is one of those movies where you can’t help but factor your own baggage from your upbringing and your experience of raising your own … Read More »
What a difference a year makes. On the eve of 2010 Cannes, Bill Pohlad’s plan to build Apparition into a powerhouse specialty film distributor was dashed by Bob Berney’s stunning decision to take an out in his contract, just as Pohlad and the Apparition team were boarding flights to Nice. A year later, Pohlad is back not as distributor, but producer and financier of The Tree of Life, the Fox Searchlight/River Road film that is hottest ticket on the Croisette. Here, Pohlad addresses his experiences at Apparition and collaborating with Terrence Malick, and the increasing role that high net worth individuals play in empowering prestige filmmakers to realize their visions.
DEADLINE: Bob Berney’s exit prompted you to shutter Apparition. Will you get back into the distribution game?
POHLAD: I don’t know. I always remain open. But right now, I’m concentrating on this film, and the other productions and development we are doing. We’ve got a couple of great things going here. I always stay open to things, but there’s nothing actively going on after Apparition.
DEADLINE: You return with The Tree of Life, which probably has the highest level of wanna see of any picture here. What made you decide to fund this, and how far back does that decision go?
POHLAD: Pretty far back. One of the first things we got involved in was the Che project, when Terry was going to direct. … Read More »
Fox Searchlight has acquired the Terrence Malick-directed The Tree of Life from Bill Pohlad’s River Road Entertainment. Though the film might be an awards season magnet with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn starring, the distributor is flush with those kinds of films already, and will release in 2011. At the Toronto International Film Festival, Searchlight will fete 127 Hours, Black Swan, Conviction and Never Let Me Go. Read More »
In a pre-Toronto blow to the indie film community, Bill Pohlad’s Apparition has let go almost the entire staff that hadn’t been laid off in July. That means about 8 staffers have followed the original cut of about 15 staffers. They got two weeks severance. Not sure what the skeleton crew will draw. Tom Ortenberg remains as a consultant as Pohlad figures out whether to restructure or not.
This development validates talk I’ve been hearing that Pohlad has been showing the Terrence Malick-directed Tree of Life to distributors. I understand the film will land shortly. That means Malick has finished it and it will likely factor into an Oscar race which has suddenly gotten interesting with films that include Black Swan and The King’s Speech. Tree of Life, which stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, was originally going to be the big title on the Apparition slate, but that scenario collapsed when Bob Berney made a surprise exit on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival. Berney is expected to start an indie distribution company at GK Films, though this hasn’t been confirmed.
I’m told the latest layoffs were done because there were no films to distribute, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Pohlad is out of the distribution game, though I wonder if his heart is in it. While it was clear … Read More »
UPDATE 12:13 PM: Apparition just made official its restructuring plans after Deadline broke the story.
EXCLUSIVE: Bill Pohlad has begun the first phase of restructuring Apparition, the indie distribution company that was thrown into disarray when co-founder Bob Berney exited in bombshell fashion just before the Cannes Film Festival. The first step is painful: 60%, or approximately 15 staffers were informed moments ago they are being let go and receiving severance packages. Last day for those staffers is this Friday. Read More »