EXCLUSIVE: Stuart Ford’s AGC is launching international sales at the upcoming Cannes market on Anna Kendrick true-crime thriller The Dating Game, which was previously set up at Netflix but has now shaken free from the streamer.
Oscar nominee Kendrick (Up In The Air) is in advanced talks to star in the feature about the chilling true story of serial killer Rodney Alcala and Cheryl Bradshaw.
The Black List script by Ian MacAllister McDonald is based on the stranger-than-fiction episode when Bradshaw was a bachelorette on the hit 70s TV matchmaking show The Dating Game and chose handsome and funny bachelor number one, Rodney Alcala. But behind Alcala’s charming facade was a deadly secret: he was a psychopathic serial killer in the midst of a murder spree.
On the show — you can watch the creepy snippets below — Bradshaw asked Alcala questions like, “I’m serving you for dinner. What are you called and what do you look like?” Alcala responded to the latter, saying, “I’m called the banana and I look good.” “Can you be a little more descriptive?” Bradshaw asked Alcala. “Peel me,” he said, and the audience laughed.
At that time, Alcala had murdered five women and been convicted of the attempted murder of a 12-year-old girl, but he made it onto the show because background checks were more lax. That left Bradshaw in a position where she was supposed to go on a chaperoned date with Alcala, only to find she was put off by his odd vibe. In 1980, he was sentenced to death for a murder and investigators found evidence — hundreds of photos of women, girls and boys, and keepsakes police believed were from victims — in a storage locker. While he would appeal several times, when advances in DNA were made, he was tied to more murders. His execution was postponed indefinitely when California declared a moratorium on death penalty cases in 2019, but Alcala died of natural causes last year while on death row.
Detectives have estimated he may have killed as many as 130 people. The film revolves around the events of the game show.
Aboard to direct is Chloe Okuno, whose debut feature Watcher played at Sundance this year. That thriller, about a stalker and the woman being stalked, touched on similar themes to The Dating Game and was ultimately picked up by IFC and Focus Features. The project was backed by AGC shareholder Image Nation Abu Dhabi.
UTA and CAA are co-repping domestic on The Dating Game, whose availability for buyers probably marks a pleasing inverse for them of the scenario whereby enticing market packages can be snapped up from under their noses by studios.
AGC is launching sales and will co-produce. Producers are J.D. Lifshitz and Raphael Margules for BoulderLight Pictures (The Cow, Becky) and Roy Lee and Miri Yoon for Vertigo Entertainment. Lee’s credits include the It franchise, Doctor Sleep, The Grudge franchise, The Ring franchise, The Departed, and Watcher, which was also sold by AGC. Kendrick will produce via her banner Let’s Go Again.
Principal photography is scheduled for late summer and the casting for Rodney Alcala and other roles is ongoing. AGC’s SVP of Legal & Business Affairs Anant Tamirisa negotiated the deal on behalf of AGC and CAA and UTA negotiated on behalf of the filmmakers.
Projects from Kendrick’s production company Let’s Go Again include the anthology series Love Life for HBO Max, the sci-fi thriller Stowaway for Netflix, and the upcoming Lionsgate feature film Alice, Darling.
Said Ford: “We are delighted to renew our relationship with Chloe and Roy having been privileged enough to be a partner on Watcher. The Dating Game promises to be a fresh and terrifying atmospheric slice of true crime horror”.
Commented Margules: “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be partnering with Stuart and the rest of the AGC crew to tell this fascinating story told by the visionary Chloe Okuno and starring the spectacular Anna Kendrick. As popular as the true crime genre is, we know that audiences have never seen anything quite like this.”
Added Lee: “Chloe is the perfect filmmaker to helm this prescient tale of suspicion, doubt, and psychosis. We are thrilled to work with her again to bring this project to life.”
Kendrick is repped by CAA and Range Media Partners; Okuno is repped by UTA and Peter Sample at Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein; Vertigo is repped by CAA; and BoulderLight is repped by Range Media Partners.
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