EXCLUSIVE: Vertical Entertainment has acquired worldwide distribution rights to Small Engine Repair, the film based on the critically acclaimed stage play (LA Critic’s Choice and New York Times Critic’s Pick).
Vertical is planning a theatrical release in September positioning the film for awards season.
The black comedy is written, directed by and starring John Pollono (Stronger) alongside Jon Bernthal (The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard), Shea Whigham (Joker), Jordana Spiro (Ozark), Spencer House (Space Force) and Ciara Bravo (Cherry).
It follows lifelong friends Frank (Pollono), Swaino (Bernthal) and Packie (Whigham) who share a love of the Red Sox, rowdy bars and Frank’s teenaged daughter Crystal (Bravo). But when Frank invites his pals to a whiskey-fueled evening and asks them to do a favor on behalf of the brash young woman they all adore, events spin wildly out of control in this exploration of brotherhood, class struggle and toxic masculinity.
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Pollono’s 2011 play became an underground hit in LA and off-Broadway. The film version won an SXSW premiere slot in the Narrative Spotlight section last year but with the live festival canceled due to Covid, Pollono and Bernthal opted to skip a digital showing. As the pandemic raged, the film nabbed a theatrical screening at the Electric Dusk drive-in last fall.
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“Small Engine Repair started out as a late-night show in 2011 with a budget of about $500. But from that first performance, we were connecting with audiences and the play moved to bigger stages all over the country and even the world,” Pollono said. “Ten years later, we updated the material and captured the same heart we had in that late night show. The central themes, for better and for worse, are more relevant than ever.”
Produces are Peter Abrams, Rick Rosenthal, Noah Rothman, and Bernthal; executive producers Eric Bernthal, Steven J. Toll, Tom Stoner, Andrew Mcinnes, Thomas Wesley Pentz, and Trevor Engelson.
The deal was negotiated by Peter Jarowey and Josh Spector of Vertical Entertainment and CAA Media Partners and 30WEST on behalf of the filmmakers.
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