EXCLUSIVE: Scott Budnick’s impact and advocacy-focused company One Community has inked a deal to co-finance the forthcoming Aretha Franklin biopic Respect directed by Liesl Tommy and starring Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. MGM will team with BRON Creative and One Community to release Respect domestically via UA Releasing on August 13, 2021. The film will be distributed internationally by Universal Pictures International.
One Community is the company behind socially-poignant films like Just Mercy. Founded by producer-turned-social advocate Budnick, One Community invests in projects that align with the company’s core belief in the power of storytelling as a tool for social change. The company designs impact campaigns that bring together non-profit and advocacy partners in an effort to convert audience empathy into action. Franklin was not only a groundbreaking artist during a time of civil unrest, but she was very much an advocate and activist for social change. That said, One Community’s involvement in the film is on par with its message.
“We are thrilled to be working with MGM and BRON Creative on this incredible project,” said Budnick. “Aretha Franklin’s journey to finding her voice in her music and in her life is inspirational, empowering, and timely.”
Chief Impact Officer Sonya Lockett added, “We are so excited to collaborate with MGM and BRON Creative to help this film carry on Aretha Franklin’s immense legacy of social and civic contributions.”
Respect follows the rise of Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom. Hudson is joined by an all-star cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess and Mary J. Blige. It is produced by Scott Bernstein, Harvey Mason Jr, and Jonathan Glickman. Hudson also serves as executive producer alongside Stacey Sher, Sue Baden-Powell, Aaron L. Gilbert, and Jason Cloth. The film was originally set for a January 15 release but due to the impact of the pandemic, it shifted to August 13, 2021.
Prior to launching One Community, Budnick produced titles such as The Hangover and Old School. He has since pivoted to investing in projects with the power to change hearts and minds on critical issues of equity and equality, and designs robust social impact campaigns to amplify and align the work of philanthropy and policy experts and convert audience empathy into action. One Community’s first project was the aforementioned Just Mercy at Warner Bros. starring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson. The critically acclaimed film is based on the true story of attorney and civil rights activist Bryan Stevenson’s fight to free a wrongfully convicted man on death row.
One Community is currently developing King Leopold’s Ghost which will be directed by Ben Affleck and produced by Affleck’s Pearl Street Films as well as Martin Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff through Sikelia Productions, and Harry and Gina Belafonte. The company is also working on In The Shadow of the Mountain, the feature adaptation of pioneering mountaineer and social entrepreneur Silvia Vasquez-Lavado’s upcoming memoir. Selena Gomez is set to star and produce through July Moon Productions with Elgin James writing and directing. One Community will produce with Oscar winner Donna Gigliotti for Tempesta Films.