EXCLUSIVE: Hidden Figures filmmaker Ted Melfi has found his next project, and it’s one he’s had his eye on for a decade — the dark comedy El Camino Christmas which he is now partnered on with Netflix. Melfi and director Dave Talbert have gathered together a top-line cast for the film: Tim Allen and Vincent D’Onofrio, Luke Grimes, Dax Shepard, Kimberly Quinn and Jimmy O. Yang make up the ensemble.
The story follows a young man (Grimes) who seeks out a father he has never met and, through no fault of his own, ends up barricaded in a liquor store with five other people on Christmas Eve. The story takes place in the fictitious town of El Camino, NV. It was scripted by Melfi with Chris Wehner.
Melfi is the Oscar-nominated writer for Hidden Figures, which was also nominated for Best Picture this year. The film he directed about the unsung, African-American female heroes in NASA struck just the right chord across the country, grossing a big $168.8 million stateside and $228.4M worldwide.
“El Camino Christmas is something that I started 10 years ago when I bought the script from Chris, and I have been trying to make the movie ever since,” Melfi told Deadline. “Finally, with the help of Netflix, which has been so fantastic, we are getting this movie off the ground in time for Christmas.” The film is being shot in Los Angeles and begins production May 1.
The picture is directed by Talbert (Almost Christmas) and produced by Melfi and Quinn through their Goldenlight Films and also through Melfi’s Brother production banners. Rich Carter, Lyn and Dave Talbert, Uri Singer and Jack Murray are the executive producers. Brother is Melfi and Carter’s commercial production house which is making its first foray into feature production with El Camino Christmas.
“On the heels of Oscars and Hidden Figures, it’s exciting to jump in with Netflix and create this movie,” said Quinn, who also helped developed the scripts as co-producer on Hidden Figures and associate producer on the delightful St. Vincent. “The last few months have been somewhat of a whirlwind but it’s good to get back to work on a passion project such as this.”
Melfi was also the screenwriter on Going In Style which opened two weeks ago and is showing legs after enjoying a great hold for Warner Bros in its second weekend in play. In addition, he wrote, directed — and produced with Chernin Entertainment — the critical favorite St. Vincent which starred Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and Jaeden Lieberher.
Allen, who stars in Last Man Standing and is doing Toy Story 4, is repped by WME and managers Richard Baker and Rick Messina.
D’Onofrio (Emerald City), who was previously nominated for an Emmy for Homicide: Life On The Street, is repped by UTA and Silver Lining Entertainment.
Grimes (Magnificent Seven, Fifty Shades Darker) is repped by CAA. Shepard (CHIPS, The Boss, Scooby Doo) is repped by WME.
Quinn, who starred in Terriers at FX and Gypsy at Netflix, is repped by UTA and John DeHority. Yang (Silicon Valley, Patriots Day) is repped by Don Buchwald & Associates and Principato-Young Entertainment.
Talbert is repped by UTA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Melfi by UTA.