Thanks to director James Ponsoldt, we now have our first look at Shailene as Aimee Finecky in The Spectacular Now, which is currently filming in Athens, Georgia. I finished reading the novel recently and loved it, so I’m sure that the movie will be just as good.
VARIETY – Kyle Chandler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Bob Odenkirk and Andre Royo have joined the cast of James Ponsoldt’s “The Spectacular Now,” which Andrew Lauren Prods. (“The Squid and the Whale”) has come on to fully finance.
A co-production among Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps, Global Produce and ALP, pic stars Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Brie Larson, while Kaitlyn Dever, Masam Holden and Dayo Okeniyi are set to round out the cast.
Adapted from Tim Tharp’s novel by scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“500 Days of Summer”), the tale follows a high school senior (Teller) and the mercurial introvert he attempts to “save” from life as a social outcast (Woodley). Script was voted to the 2009 Black List.
Tom McNulty and Shawn Levy are producing with Michelle Krumm and Andrew Lauren. Neustadter and Weber will exec produce alongside Marc Shmuger, Matthew Medlin and Ruth Mutch. 21 Laps execs Billy Rosenberg and Dan Cohen are also expected to be involved in a producing capacity.
The Exchange is onboard to sell foreign rights. UTA is handling domestic rights. Production is under way in Athens, Ga.
Andrew Lauren Prods. is fast-tracking the development of several projects including two co-productions and actively developing TV projects. Moving forward, the company will focus on bolstering its development slate as well as looking at producing and financing opportunities.
I’ve uploaded Blu-ray screen captures of Shailene from her breakthrough role in The Descendants to the gallery. She was so fantastic in her role, as were the entire cast. The special features from the release have also been added, so be sure to take a look!
ONLINE ATHENS – Athens will play host to another Hollywood film crew this summer, its second this year. This time, though, there’s a local connection.
James Ponsoldt, a 1997 graduate of Cedar Shoals High School, is in town now scouting locations and casting for a new film titled “The Spectacular Now” that’s set to begin filming in late July.
On Wednesday afternoon, Ponsoldt helmed a casting session at Ciné, part of a Southeast-wide attempt to rally acting talent for the film.
The project is in the pre-production stage, which means, Ponsoldt explained, his team is propping the organization by hiring a crew and cast simultaneously, and setting up its offices.
At this point, his crew numbers six. By the time shooting ramps up, that number will grow to 40, not including actors, and will employ some Athenians.
“The Spectacular Now” is an adolescent coming-of-age story based on a book written by Tim Tharp of the same name.
Ponsoldt believes the material transcends the average teen film.
“When I heard it was about teenagers, my knee jerked,” he said. “But when I read it, I was floored. It’s a really honest story.”
Ponsoldt lamented that adolescent lives aren’t treated with gravity by American filmmakers as they are in foreign movies. He cited exceptions like “American Grafitti,” “Dazed and Confused” and the TV show “Freaks and Geeks” as potential touchstones for his film.
“Only in America is there an idea that films about teenagers have to be dumb,” he said, adding that he intends to mimic the emotional inner life of a teen in the film.
“Teenagers haven’t had a steady diet of films about themselves that are mature.”
Ponsoldt’s last film, “Smashed,” was a hit at the annual Sundance Film Festival in Aspen, Colo., this year. The producers of “The Spectacular Now” likely sent him the script based on their reaction to “Smashed,” he said.
“The Spectacular Now” also marks the first feature Ponsoldt has shot in his hometown. On previous films, including “Off the Black,” a movie he wrote and directed, Ponsoldt tried to shoot in Athens, or at least Georgia, but the expense of filming in the state at that time proved too costly.
“It was kind of sad to me,” Ponsoldt said of having to film in upstate New York instead of his native Georgia. “But it wasn’t my money.”
But tax credits adopted by the Georgia Legislature in the past six years made filming here financially feasible, he said.
Ponsoldt explained that the book takes place in Oklahoma, but there’s nothing that pins the story to that location. When he read the script, his hometown screamed out to him. So when he signed onto the project, he pushed the producers to set the film in Athens.
Before casting is complete, a number of rising stars are already attached to the project, including Miles Teller of the films “Rabbit Hole” and “Footloose,” Brie Larson of Woody Allen’s “Rampart” and “21 Jumpstreet” and Shailene Woodley, star of TV’s “Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “The Descendants.” Woodley had signed onto the project before Ponsoldt committed, he said. Her performance in “The Descendants,” which earned the actress an Oscar nomination, influenced his decision to direct her in “The Spectacular Now.”
Ponsoldt said that by time casting is wrapped up, more familiar actors are expected to sign onto the film.
Shooting starts July 23 at locations throughout Athens and should wrap by Aug. 25.
VARIETY – Hot off her acclaimed supporting performance in Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants,” Shailene Woodley has signed on to topline “White Bird,” a new indie project from writer-director Gregg Araki.
Drama is told from the point of view of Woodley’s character, a troubled young woman whose life is upended following the mysterious disappearance of her mother.
With Woodley in place, Araki will turn his attention to casting the other key roles, including the protag’s parents and the lead detective on the case. Araki will produce “White Bird” with his frequent collaborators Pascal Caucheteux and Sebastien Lemercier of Why Not Prods.
One of the most lauded and prolific production companies in France, Why Not was responsible for four films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, including Jacques Audiard’s “Rust And Bone,” Ken Loach’s “The Angel’s Share,” Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond The Hills” and Bruno Podalydes’ “Adieu Berthe.” Shingle, which has produced over 75 features including Audiard’s “A Prophet,” is currently shooting “Jimmy Picard” with Benicio Del Toro and Mathieu Almaric.
Congratulations to Shai! I’m sure this will be another great role for her.
VARIETY – After four years in development, Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber’s adaptation of Tim Tharp’s award-winning novel “The Spectacular Now” is finally moving forward with Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”) attached to star and “Smashed” helmer James Ponsoldt set to direct for Global Produce and 21 Laps.
Coming-of-age dramedy follows a teenage girl (Woodley) who convinces an alcoholic high school senior that his philosophy of living only for the moment may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Global Produce principals Tom McNulty and Marc Shmuger will produce with Shawn Levy of 21 Laps, while “500 Days of Summer” scribes Weber and Neustadter will exec produce. Billy Rosenberg and Dan Cohen will oversee the project for 21 Laps.
UTA Independent Film Group is repping “Spectacular,” which Ponsoldt’s fellow Sundance helmer Lee Toland Krieger (“Celeste and Jesse Forever”) was originally attached to direct before scheduling issues forced him to leave the project. Woodley nearly followed him before seeing Ponsoldt’s sobriety drama “Smashed,” which convinced her to stick with the pic.