EXCLUSIVE: Julia Roberts and Manchester By the Sea Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges are set to star in Ben Is Back. The drama is scripted and will be directed by Peter Hedges, the What’s Eating Gilbert Grape novelist-screenwriter, About a Boy scribe and Pieces of April and Dan In Real Life director who is the father of Lucas. The drama follows the charming yet troubled Ben Burns (Hedges), who returns home to his unsuspecting family one fateful Christmas Eve. Ben’s wary mother Holly Burns (Roberts) welcomes her beloved son’s return, but soon learns he is still very much in harm’s way. During the 24 hours that may change their lives forever, Holly must do everything in her power to avoid the family’s downfall.
Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson’s Color Force and Teddy Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures are producing alongside Hedges, with 30WEST and Black Bear fully financing the picture. CAA, which packaged and arranged financing for the film, will represent U.S. right, and Sierra/Affinity will be handling international rights for a film that immediately becomes the hot package at upcoming American Film Market.
Production begins December in New York. Roberts, who won an Oscar for Erin Brockovich, next stars in Wonder, the Stephen Chbosky-directed adaptation of the R.J. Palacio bestseller, which Lionsgate releases November 17. She will star in Ben Is Back, and then commence work on the Amazon Studios drama series Homecoming.
Coming off his breakout turn in Manchester By the Sea, Hedges next stars in the Oscar-season films Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, both of which received rave reviews out of Telluride and Toronto. Hedges is currently in production on the Joel Edgerton-directed Boy Erased starring opposite Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Edgerton.
Color Force, coming off the Emmy-winning FX series The People Vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, is currently in production on The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and has upcoming the films The Goldfinch and Crazy Rich Asians. Schwarzman’s Black Bear has the Dee Rees-directed Mudbound and the George Clooney-directed Suburbicon upcoming, with the Casey Affleck-directed Light of My Life in post. 30WEST, founded by Dan Friedkin and Micah Green with former Black Bear exec Dan Steinman a partner, arranged financing for the upcoming Ridley Scott-directed All the Money in the World, and is teamed with Neon on the domestic release of the Craig Gillespie-directed I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie.
Peter Hedges and Julia Roberts are represented by CAA, and Lucas Hedges by CAA and Anonymous Content.