EXCLUSIVE: Golden Globe nominee Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk) and Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) are set to star in college sports drama National Champions, we can reveal.
Homecoming and 21 Bridges star James will play a star quarterback who ignites a players strike hours before the biggest game of the year in order to fight for fair compensation, equality and respect for the student-athletes who put their bodies and health on the line for their schools.
has boarded world rights to the film, which will be directed by Angel Has Fallen
filmmaker Ric Roman Waugh
and is being produced through John Wick
producer Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road and his sports-themed label game1.
The film is set to shoot in New Orleans next month and is being fully financed by BondIt Media Capital and The Capstone Group. CAA Media Finance Group and Range Media Partners brokered the distribution deal with STX.
Written by Adam Mervis and based on his play, National Champions is produced by Iwanyk and Brendon Boyea for Thunder Road and Greg Economou for game1. Executive producers are Jonathan Fuhrman of Thunder Road, Matthew Helderman and Luke Taylor of Bondit Media Capital, Christian Mercuri of The Capstone Group, Michael Smith and Adam Mervis.
“Our experience with Ric on Greenland was nothing short of extraordinary,” said STX chairman Adam Fogelson. “When we had the opportunity to work with him and our friends at Thunder Road and game1 on National Champions, we jumped at the chance. This is a film that taps into important issues and does it with compelling, authentic and memorable characters. In the best tradition of sports dramas, they will leave audiences rooting for victory and perhaps considering the competitive nature of college sports and athletics in a different way.”
actor Simmons will next be seen alongside Chris Pratt in the sci-fi thriller The Tomorrow War
. Next out for James is crime-drama Delia’s Gone.
He is also in the Chiwetel Ejiofor-directed drama Rob Peace
, produced by Antoine Fuqua, which is in pre-production.
National Champions marks the latest high profile deal for STX which in recent days closed F. Gary Gray to direct Vin Diesel in Muscle and the studio also added Neil Burger’s Daisy Ridley starrer The Marsh King’s Daughter to its U.S. release slate, which also includes Queenpins, Guy Ritchie’s next action film with Jason Statham, American Sole, The Godmother, Universe’s Most Wanted and Violence of Action.
Waugh is represented by Range Media Partners; James is with Norbert Abrams of Noble Caplan Abrams, Range Media Partners and CAA; Simmons is repped by Gersh; and Mervis is represented by Grandview and A3.