EXCLUSIVE: Briarcliff Entertainment has acquired North American rights to The Hill, an inspirational true-life sports drama starring Dennis Quaid, scripted by Angelo Pizzo & Scott Marshall Smith and directed by Jeff Celentano. Quaid starred in one of the most successful fact-based sports films in recent memory with The Rookie, and Pizzo wrote two of the best true sports films in Rudy and Hoosiers. Celentano helmed Gunshy and Breaking Point.
Quaid plays James Hill, a traveling pastor who becomes an overbearing influence on Rickey Hill, his sandlot baseball phenom son. The pastor thinks he’s protecting the boy because of health concerns and fear of how others will treat the youth because of his physical disabilities. But Rickey is determined to overcome those setbacks to fulfill his dream of playing professional baseball and making his father proud. The cast includes Colin Ford, Joelle Carter and country star Randy Houser, with Bonnie Bedelia and Scott Glenn.
Briarcliff CEO Tom Ortenberg made the deal with the commitment to open the film in 1,000-plus theaters on August 18, 2023.
“All of us at Briarcliff are excited to come on board to distribute The Hill,” said Ortenberg. “Bringing real-life stories such as Rickey Hill’s triumph over some of life’s most arduous obstacles to the big screen is why we are in the movie business. The Hill is an incredible story sure to have audiences cheering for Rickey in theatres everywhere this summer.”
Said Celentano: “I have been spiritually and emotionally connected to this project ever since I got to know Rickey and his family and what he ultimately accomplished. Now, with the team at Briarcliff, we will be able to bring Rickey’s story to the masses.”
Said Hill: “It’s an honor to have my story told in this way with Dennis Quaid and Colin Ford starring in The Hill. I hope audiences find inspiration in their depiction of my life and that it offers encouragement to anyone with a physical disability, because loving what you do, is the key to a wonderful life.”
Pic is produced by Warren Ostergard and Celentano.
Executive producers include Ron Cundy, Michael A. Blubaugh, Michael E. Hollingsworth, Rickey Hill, Matthew Dwyer, Darren Moorman, Carl Mazzocone and Tyler W. Konney, Clay Pecorin and Russell Geyser of Rainmaker Films. Taylor & Dodge is handling worldwide sales.
The deal was negotiated by Ortenberg and Jessica Rose on behalf of Briarcliff and by Konney and Nicholas Erickson of Taylor & Dodge on behalf of the filmmakers. Quaid is represented by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller.
Briarcliff will open Marlowe, starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger and Jessica Lange, on February 15. It will also release sports biopic Sweetwater on April 14.
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