EXCLUSIVE: Open Road is teaming with Participant Media, eOne, and Anonymous Content on Spotlight, a drama that Tom McCarthy will direct about the Boston Globe investigation into pedophile priests and a shameful cover-up in the Catholic Church that allowed them to prey on children for years. Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Aaron Eckhart, Liev Schreiber and Stanley Tucci will star. It’s shaping up to be a big movie, with Anonymous Content producing, Open Road releasing domestic and eOne selling international. McCarthy helmed The Visitor and scripted the animated film Up, and the script is by The West Wing‘s Josh Singer and McCarthy.
The title refers to the Spotlight Team of Boston Globe reporters and editors that uncovered an unimaginable citywide conspiracy to cover up clergy child abuse. That investigative team included then-Globe editor Marty Baron (Schreiber) and Spotlight Team editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Keaton). Reporters Michael Rezendes (Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (McAdams), and Matt Carroll spent a year interviewing victims and reviewing thousands of pages of documents and discovered years of cover-up by Church leadership. Their reporting eventually led to the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, who had hidden years of serial abuse by other priests and opened the floodgates to other revelations of molestation and cover-ups around the world which still reverberate today. For their efforts, the Globe team won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003. Tucci will portray attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who achieved national acclaim representing the families of abuse victims. Pic will shoot in Boston and Toronto in the fall.
Participant has been working on this one for a while, originally with DreamWorks. But that studio no longer is involved. Singer scripted another whistleblower pic, the Julian Assange story The Fifth Estate, which DreamWorks and Participant made together. The film has come together with a killer cast. Schreiber, ironically, is doing career best work in the Showtime drama Ray Donovan, which has an undercurrent of the Boston priest scandal. Ruffalo is coming off HBO’s Emmy nominated The Normal Heart and the John Carney-directed Begin Again. It is certainly a hot-potato issue but falls into the tradition of films like All The President’s Men, in which journalists took on a power structure and exposed an untenable situation and scandal.
Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Michael Sugar, coming off True Detective and the Steven Soderbergh-created Cinemax series The Knick with Clive Owen, will produce with Rocklin/Faust’s Nicole Rocklin and Blye Faust. David Mizner will serve as a consultant and associate producer. Participant Media’s Jonathan King and Jeff Skoll are exec producers. Open Road Films’ Tom Ortenberg and Peter Lawson also will be executive producers.
eOne Films International will handle international sales of the film in all territories outside of the UK, Canada, Spain, Benelux and Australia/New Zealand, where the company will distribute directly. Open Road Films will distribute Spotlight in the U.S., where a wide release is planned. Deals were brokered by Harold van Lier for eOne with Jeff Ivers and Jonathan King for Participant Media, and Tom Ortenberg, Elliott Kleinberg and Peter Lawson for Open Road.