EXCLUSIVE: Sony just bought a feature pitch from writing duo Bob Smiley and Justin Hensley based on the memoir Hope Heals: A True Story Of Overwhelming Loss And Overcoming Love authored by Katherine and Jay Wolf. The studio bought the project for Ian Bryce Productions and Humble Picture Company. Hope Heals marks the first project under the Humble Picture Company banner. It will go through Columbia Pictures.
The book chronicles the true story of Katherine’s near-fatal stroke and how the young couple’s faith and their love for each other helped them survive. With a sense of renewed purpose, Katherine and Jay embrace their second chance at life and start their ministry, Hope Heals, to share the hope they have found with others who are suffering.
That the project will go through Sony (with Affirm working on the marketing) means it goes through a studio that already has marketed and distributed a number of faith-based films, including box office hit Heaven Is For Real, Miralces From Heaven and War Room.
Bryce will produce through his IBP banner, while Irene Yeung and Aimee LeMaire will oversee the project for IBP. Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds), who is partnered with Smiley in the Humble Picture Company, will executive produce and Smiley will co-produce through HPC. Nieporte is adapting the book The Impossible for 20th Century Fox and producer DeVon Franklin. The company is also developing the drama series Fell written by Michael Birkland and the feature film Miracle On The Brazos.
Hensley also will co-produce Hope Heals, and Eric Fineman will oversee the project for the studio.
Smiley and Hensley have been writing together since 2009, starting in comedy writing for directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon. They’ve also developed and written for Mary Viola and McG at Wonderland Sound and Vision.
Separately, Smiley adapted the book The Longest Fight for producer Kevin McCormick at Warner Bros and also is a WGA Award winner for his work in TV. He has several pilots in development, most recently writing and serving as executive producer of the single-cam Disney Channel pilot Forever Boys.
Hensley recently finished a feature comedy for producer Darren Moorman and Astute Films. Prior to that, he wrote Family Reunion, a project he developed with Bluegrass Films.
Ian Bryce Productions, which has a first-look deal at Paramount Pictures, just recently set up That Others May Live at the Melrose lot with Andy Stern set to adapt the true story of U.S. Air Force Pararescueman Staff Sgt. August O’Niell. IBP is also developing at Par the gritty crime drama Force, written by Brian Horiuchi, as well as an adaptation of The New York Times’ bestselling novel The Greenglass House, which is being adapted by Joe Ballarini.
Bryce is repped by Rob Carlson at UTA. Smiley and Hensley are repped by Gersh and David Krintzman at Morris Yorn. Nieporte is repped by David Krintzman at Morris Yorn. Katherine and Jay Wolf are repped by Ashley Nissenberg at Morris Yorn. Their literary agent is Lisa Jackson at Alive Literary Agency.