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Roadside Attractions has acquired U.S. distribution rights to the Shia LaBeouf-led adventure comedy The Peanut Butter Falcon, which captured the Audience Award after its world premiere at SXSW in March.
Written and directed by Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson, the road trip film also stars Dakota Johnson, and newcomer Zack Gottsagen. Roadside set a release date of Aug. 9. Endeavor Content is handling international sales.
The film received unanimous praise from critics highlighting the inclusive casting of Gottsagen, an actor with Down syndrome, in the lead role.
Schwartz and Nilson wrote the film specifically for Gottsagen after they met him at a camp for disabled actors and were inspired by his fierce determination to become a leading man in Hollywood.
Described as a modern Mark Twain-style adventure story, Peanut Butter Falcon tells the story of Zak (Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, who runs away from a residential nursing home to follow his dream of attending the professional wrestling school of his idol, the Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). A strange turn of events pairs him on the road with Tyler (LaBeouf), a small-time outlaw on the run, who becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find god, catch fish and convince Eleanor (Johnson), a kind nursing home employee charged with Zak’s return, to join them on their journey. The film also stars Bruce Dern, John Hawkes, Jon Bernthal and Yelawolf.
Tim Zajaros and Christopher Lemole of Armory Films financed and serve as producers on the film alongside Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa of Bona Fide Prods, as well as Lije Sarki and David Thies. Manu Gargi, Armory Films’ Aaron Scotti, Michelle Sie Whitten (co-founder and executive director of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation), Timothy P. Shriver (chairman of the Special Olympics) and Anthony K. Shriver (Best Buddies International Founder) serve as executive producers.
“We couldn’t be more proud of how the movie turned out, the performances are incredible,” said writers-directors Schwartz and Nilson. “Roadside Attractions has released some of our favorite movies, and their enthusiasm for this project is exciting. We can’t wait for audiences to get the chance to join Zack, Shia and Dakota on their adventure.”
Added Roadside co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff: “The trio of Zack, Shia and Dakota is unlike any we’ve seen before and their adventure is awesome, heartwarming and inspiring. We’re thrilled to bring the movie to theaters and to work with such great new filmmakers as Michael and Tyler.”
The deal was negotiated between Cohen and Angel An of Roadside Attractions and Endeavor Content and CAA on behalf of the filmmakers.