EXCLUSIVE: In a move that might well put Apple in the awards season conversation, the company has made a big worldwide rights acquisition of The Banker, a fact-based period drama that George Nolfi directed and co-wrote.
Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson play entrepreneurs who tried to circumvent the racial limitations of the 1950s as they turned their business savvy into social activism and decided to help African Americans get loans in Texas. They enlisted a working class white man named Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) to be their front man, educating him on what to say and how to conduct himself. The masterminds — Bernard Garrett (Mackie) and Joe Morris (Jackson) — posed as a janitor and chauffeur, and Garrett’s wife (Nia Long) played a key role in setting up the enterprise. After becoming very wealthy real estate investors in California, they covertly purchased two banks in Texas, unheard of in the Jim Crow era deep south. Their goal in acquiring the Mainland Back & Trust Co and a controlling interest in the First National Bank Of Marlin: quietly providing loans to the African American community there. When the white banking establishment figured out what was happening, the men were placed at great personal risk.
The film joins a roster of films, docus and series for Apple TV +, but sources said the plan here is for a significant theatrical release for the buzzy title during awards season.
Script was written by Niceole Levy, Nolfi, David Smith and Stan Younger, from a story by Smith, Younger and Brad Caleb Kane. The film also stars Michael Harney, Colm Meaney, Paul Ben-Victor, and Jessie T. Usher.
Pic was financed by Romulus Entertainment, and Joel Viertel is producing with Brad Feinstein (Fences), Nolfi, Mackie, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathan Baker and David Smith. Endeavor Content represented the sale of the film with ICM Partners.
The Banker adds to an Apple feature slate that includes the Sundance Festival films Hala and The Elephant Queen, the animated Tomm Moore film Wolfwalkers, and the Sofia Coppola-directed On The Rocks.
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