The Mark Gordon Company, which is behind Aaron Sorkin’s awards-season pic Molly’s Game based on Molly Bloom’s memoir, has just acquired feature film rights to All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderer’s Row.
The upcoming book, to be published next January by Little, Brown and Company, is penned by bestselling author James Patterson and Alex Abramovich, with Mike Harvkey, based on their investigative reporting. It will dissect the story of Hernandez, the former all-star tight end for the New England Patriots who was convicted of murder in 2015, later indicted but acquitted of a second murder, and who committed suicide in his prison cell last year.
Patterson will executive produce the movie, with Mark Gordon Company’s Mark Gordon and Matt Jackson producing alongside Bill Robinson and Leopoldo Gout. Josh Phillips and Joanne Lee will oversee for MGC.
“The real, shocking events that led to Aaron Hernandez’s harrowing fall from NFL stardom gripped America’s attention and imprinted itself on today’s cultural zeitgeist,” said Gordon in announcing the deal. “James is unmatched in his storytelling and reporting talents, and he chronicles this story with incredible insight and nuance. There is no other person with whom to collaborate to bring this timely film to life.”
In September, Showtime acquired the rights to The President Is Missing, the upcoming thriller novel by Patterson and President Bill Clinton. It will be developed as a TV series.
Upcoming projects from MGC’s film unit include The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.