It came down between Focus Features and Netflix in the chase to land Boy Erased, and Focus Features landed the star-cast package Deadline scooped on June 8. Focus, which recently worked closely with Edgerton on the Jeff Nichols-directed Loving, won the provocative film that Edgerton scripted and will direct based on the memoir by Garrard Conley. Edgerton will star with Manchester By The Sea‘s Lucas Hedges, and Edgerton is courting Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman for supporting roles.
Deadline covered the details of the package in depth while it was in play that is linked here, so here’s the Focus release announcing the deal today:
Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to Boy Erased, the coming-of-age and coming-out drama from writer/director Joel Edgerton based on Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrard Conley. Academy Award nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) will star opposite Academy Award winners Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. The movie will be produced by Anonymous Content and will begin production this fall for a 2018 theatrical release. Focus chairman Peter Kujawski made the announcement today.
The film will tell the story of Jared (to be portrayed by Mr. Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Ms. Kidman and Mr. Crowe) at age 19. Jared is quickly pressured into attending a gay conversion therapy program – or else be shunned by his family, friends, and church. It is within the program that Jared comes into conflict with its head therapist (Mr. Edgerton).
“I’m excited to work with an ensemble of actors, seasoned and new, to bring Garrard’s story to the screen. I think Focus is the perfect partner on this, and I will always thank Garrard for trusting my passion for his life story. I can’t think of a better reason to get behind the camera again,” said Mr. Edgerton.
Boy Erased is being produced by Mr. Edgerton and Anonymous Content’s Kerry Kohansky-Roberts and Steve Golin, an Academy Award-winning producer of Best Picture Oscar winner Spotlight. Executive-producing the film are Rebecca Yeldham, Ann Ruark, and Anonymous Content’s Kim Hodgert and Tony Lipp. Josh McLaughlin, recently promoted to Focus president of production, will supervise the project for the company.
Mr. Conley’s book was first published last year by Penguin Random House, and was issued earlier this year in paperback. Mr. Edgerton has written the screenplay adaptation; Boy Erased will be his second feature as director following the sleeper hit The Gift (also produced by Ms. Yeldham), which earned him a Directors Guild of America Award nomination. He was recently a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominee for his performance in Focus’ Loving.
Focus Features was honored in 2012 by Point Foundation, the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students of merit, with its Point Inspiration Award, given to a company or organization that champions respect and inclusion of the LGBT community and operates with the vision that investing in today’s potential will produce a brighter tomorrow.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2017, Focus Features has made and released Academy Award-winning LGBT-themed films including Beginners, Dallas Buyers Club, The Danish Girl, Milk, and Brokeback Mountain, the company’s all-time top-grosser.
Mr. Kujawski commented, “Garrard’s story is both timely and timeless, both personal and universal. It is a story which will not only deeply move people, but one that we hope will change outlooks. We are thrilled to work once again with Joel, and with the Anonymous Content team. These filmmakers’ passion for this heart-rending project speaks to all of us at Focus, and to why we make the movies we do.”