EXCLUSIVE: Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) and Reacher breakout Alan Ritchson have signed on to star in the film Ordinary Angels from Kingdom Story Company, which Lionsgate will distribute.
Set against the backdrop of the worst snowstorm in Kentucky history, pic is inspired by the incredible true story of a struggling hairdresser (Swank) who single-handedly rallies an entire community to help a widowed father (Ritchson) save the life of his critically ill young daughter.
Jon Gunn (The Unbreakable Boy) is directing, having written the most recent draft of the script with Jon Erwin. Meg Tilly and Kelly Fremon Craig penned an earlier draft. Kingdom Story Company’s Kevin Downes, Jon Erwin and Andrew Erwin are producing alongside Stampede Ventures’ Jon Berg, Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee, Stolen Sky Productions’ Dave Matthews and Johnathan Dorfman, and Green Hummingbird Entertainment’s David Beal and Sarah Johnson. Chelsea Kujawa and Scott O’Brien are overseeing the project for Lionsgate, along with Business Affairs executive Phil Strina. Gabriella Ludlow oversaw negotiations for the Kingdom Story Company.
“I’m thrilled to be working with Hilary and Alan,” said Gunn. “They are both actors with incredible range, who find humanity and vulnerability in every character they play. They are perfectly matched to bring this complex and inspirational true story to life.”
“Kingdom Story Company endeavors to bring inspiring true stories to life on screen. Ordinary Angels spotlights one family’s seemingly insurmountable struggles and the everyday people who helped them in remarkable ways,” said Downes. “Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchson bring to life this heroic example of how one person can change a family and how that changes a community and gives rise, quite literally, to life and to hope.”
“Greg Silverman and I are privileged to have worked with the incredibly talented Hilary Swank while at Warner Bros. and we’re thrilled to be reunited with her on Ordinary Angels,” added Berg. “Stampede Ventures is committed to supporting rising stars and in Alan Ritchson we’ve got the complete package – a phenomenal breakout talent. We’re eager to start production with our amazing writer/director Jon Gunn and our partners at Lionsgate, Kingdom Story Company, and Dave Matthews’ Stolen Sky Productions.”
Swank won Oscars for her turns in Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby, and has also been recognized throughout her career with two Golden Globes, a Critics’ Choice Award, an Independent Spirit Award, a Gotham Tribute Award and a SAG Award, along with many other accolades. She last year starred in Oscar winner Tom McCarthy’s Untitled Alaska Project pilot, and also recently starred opposite Michael Ealy in Deon Taylor’s Lionsgate detective thriller, Fatale, as well as the Netflix drama series Away, which she also exec produced. The actress and producer has also appeared in such series as Trust and Beverly Hills, 90210. Additional film credits include The Hunt, I Am Mother, What They Had, Logan Lucky, New Year’s Eve, Conviction, Amelia, P.S. I Love You, Freedom Writers, The Black Dahlia and Insomnia.
Ritchson is an actor, writer, director and producer who can currently be seen as the title character in Amazon’s critically acclaimed series Reacher, based on Lee Child’s international bestselling novels. The series quickly became one of Prime Video’s top five most-watched ever in the U.S. and globally, upon its February debut, and is one of the most-binged original series ever for the platform. It was renewed for a second season following its debut weekend. For Ritchson, the show came on the heels of his feature directorial debut Dark Web: Cicada 3301, which he also wrote and starred in for Lionsgate, and his multiyear run on the HBO Max drama Titans.
Kingdom Story Company is an entertainment content company from the creators of I Can Only Imagine and American Underdog. Helmed by Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Kevin Downes and Tony Young, and in partnership with the studio Lionsgate, it endeavors to bring content infused with a rush of hope to audiences across the globe.
Silverman launched Stampede Ventures in 2018, following a near 20-year tenure at Warner Bros. that saw him rise to President of Creative Development and Worldwide Production. His independent media company is also currently at work on the Netflix animated feature Prince of Port au Prince from Wyclef Jean; Mo Willems’ CGI animated rock opera, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience, which will debut on HBO Max next year; and Morgan Neville’s Netflix documentary, Curveball. Recent releases include the coming-of-age dramedy Pink Skies Ahead, starring Jessica Barden, and the comedy special Mo Willems & the Storytime All-Stars Present: Don’t Let The Pigeon Do Storytime!, which received two Daytime Emmy nominations, and is currently available for streaming on HBO Max. Stampede also recently expanded its foundation in the kids & family space in partnering with UTA to launch HappyNest, an animation production company that incubates IP for kids & family content.
Lee and his production company, Vertigo Entertainment, has produced over 50 films and television shows over the past two decades. Past film credits include The Ring, The Departed, The Strangers, The Lego Movie, and Stephen King’s It. On the television side, it has produced Bates Motel, The Exorcist, The Stand and Covenant. Vertigo’s upcoming films include Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, in which she stars alongside Harry Styles and Florence Pugh; The Mother, starring Jennifer Lopez; and Minecraft with Warner Bros.
Stolen Sky Productions was founded by Grammy-winning musician Dave Matthews and producer Johnathan Dorfman, who have previously produced award-winning films including Joshua (Fox Searchlight) with Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga; Choke (Fox Searchlight) with Rockwell and Anjelica Huston; and Savage Grace (IFC) with Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne. In 2010, their sister company, ATO Pictures, became an independent distribution company with Dorfman acting as President. The company produced or released films in the North American market including Bruce Beresford’s Mao’s Last Dancer, George Hickenlooper’s Casino Jack, Azazel Jacobs’ Terri with John C. Reilly, Jessica Yu’s Last Call at the Oasis and Pawel Pawlikowski’s The Woman In The Fifth with Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott-Thomas. In 2013, Dorfman and Matthews returned to active production under their Stolen Sky Productions banner.
Green Hummingbird Entertainment is a boutique studio based in New York and London led by co-heads David Beal (former President of National Geographic Entertainment and Palm) and Emmy-winning producer Sian Edwards-Beal. Its prior releases include the Wim Wenders thriller Submergence, with Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy; the dramedy All Nighter, with J.K. Simmons and Emile Hirsch; the horror-mystery Lost Child; and the thriller Keely and Du.
Swank is represented by WME, Management 360, and Jackoway Austen Tyerman; Ritchson by WME, Industry Entertainment, and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller; Gunn by WME and Weintraub Tobin Chediak; Tilly by Noble Caplan Abrams in Toronto, Ilene Feldman Management and attorney Mark S. Temple; Craig by UTA, Kaplan / Perrone Entertainment and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller; Erwin by UTA and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole; and Matthews and Stolen Sky by Ilene Feldman Management.