EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate bought a whopper of a spec package in Wayland. In competition, Lionsgate took the spec script by Simon Kinberg off the table with a progress to production commitment to make the movie. Jessica Chastain will produce, and her The Eyes of Tammy Faye helmer Michael Showalter will direct. Production is eyed for next year.
Wayland is an ensemble drama thriller that has shades of A Simple Plan and Knives Out. Kinberg will produce with Audrey Chon (who runs his Genre Films shingle), and Chastain and Kelly Carmichael (who runs her Freckle Films shingle). Showalter will be executive producer. Chastain would certainly be welcomed to be among the ensemble cast if she wants, but right now her commitment is as producer.
This is only the second spec Kinberg wrote in the last 20 years since he broke on the scene with his spec Mr. & Mrs. Smith and then got busy writing and producing blockbusters. He returned to spec writing with Here Comes the Flood, a heist thriller that Jason Bateman will direct for Netflix. Kinberg and Chastain first got together when she brought him her idea for an international spy thriller, and it turned into The 355, the global female spy thriller that sold out several Cannes markets ago. Kinberg directed that script he wrote with Theresa Rebeck, with Chastain starring with Diane Kruger, Penélope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o and Bingbing Fan as the spies, and Sebastian Stan and Edgar Ramirez co-starring. The Universal and FilmNation thriller open January 7.
This time, Kinberg wrote the spec, and then enlisted Chastain to develop it with him. She brought aboard Showalter, The Big Sick director who just helmed The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Chastain played the title character and Andrew Garfield her disgraced televangelist husband Jim Bakker in the Searchlight drama.
Kinberg is currently writing and producing Battlestar Galactica for Universal, and producing the F. Gary Gray-directed Kevin Hart-starrer Lift which Netflix shoots early next year. In addition, Apple TV+ has the series Invasion which he co-created and wrote.
Showalter has been on a roll. The former member of the sketch comedy team The State directed and exec produced the upcoming Apple TV+ series Shrink Next Door with Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd, and he also directed The Dropout for Searchlight and Hulu, about disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, with Amanda Seyfried playing her. Showalter just started Spoiler Alert for Focus Features.
For Lionsgate, Wayland will be overseen by Aaron Edmonds and Chisom Ude, with Bonnie Stylides handling negotiations for the studio. Kinberg’s repped by CAA, Chastain by CAA and Mosaic and Showalter by UTA, Artists First and attorney Rick Genow.