EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate and Gigi Pritzker’s Odd Lot Entertainment has acquired Spitfire, a pitch by Grant Thompson to tell the fact-based story of Louise Smith, a rebellious firebrand who takes the stock car racing scene of the 1950s by storm with her steadfast driving skills and changes the fate of racing forever. Female drivers were surprisingly instrumental in the founding of NASCAR just after WWII. A forgotten forerunner of contemporary female drivers like Danica Patrick, Smith was the quintessential small-town girl with big dreams who smashed through the gender preconceptions of the time to ultimately race at the famed Daytona Beach road course and helped secure the initial funding for what would become the billion-dollar sports giant NASCAR.
Nicky Weinstock of Invention Films is producing. NASCAR is exec producing. NASCAR holds the key to a vast potential racing audience, but it is stingy about the films it gets involved in. The last big one was the Adam McKay-directed Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby, which starred Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Sacha Baron Cohen. Obviously the question is whether that largely male audience will turn out for a female-themed racing film, but the formula worked well for Sony and Penny Marshall in A League Of Their Own.
Meredith Milton and Rachel Shane are overseeing for Lionsgate and Odd Lot, respectively. Odd Lot and Lionsgate most recently teamed up on Ender’s Game, which was designed as a franchise-starter but hasn’t performed that way.
Thompson scripted McFarland, the Disney film that Niki Caro is currently shooting with Kevin Costner and Maria Bello for Mayhem. He is currently scripting Bad Dog for Participant Pictures, and the sports drama Start for Gran Via Productions and Mayhem. He also sold the pilot script The Hero to CBS, with Sony and Original Film producing with Steve Maeda attached as EP/showrunner. Thompson’s deal was made by his reps, Paradigm, Madhouse Entertainment & attorney Mark Wetzstein.