Armando Iannucci Reuniting With 'Death of Stalin' Producer on Comedy 'Sumo'

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Armando Iannucci

The coming-of-age comedy — to be directed by Natalie Bailey — will follow an overweight kid who sets out to become a sumo wrestler.

Veep creator Armando Iannucci is reuniting with his Death of Stalin producer Yann Zenou on a coming-age-age comedy set in the world of amateur sumo wrestling. 

Sumo — a theatrical feature comedy likened to feel-good features including Little Miss Sunshine, Superbad and Booksmart — follows the story of Jonah, a silver-tongued and overweight kid with low self-esteem who meets Hana, a Japanese female janitor at his school — and a former sumo wrestler. Along with a pedantic and friendless building manager, they set about building a "dojo" and training for the U.S. Sumo Open. 

American Japanese actor Suzy Nakamura from HBO’s Avenue 5 and ABC’s Dr. Ken has committed for the role of Hana. The script was written by Brit list topper Richard Galazka.

Rocket Science is handling worldwide sales for Sumo at the European Film Market in Berlin.

Iannucci will serve as executive producer, alongside fellow BAFTA-winning producers Emily Leo and Oliver Roskill, as well as Ado Yoshizaki Cassuto and Gianluca Chakra. The team has fully developed the project and will be producing the film under their respective companies YZE, Wild Swim, Record Player, NDF International and Front Row Filmed Entertainment.

Sumo will be directed by Natalie Bailey, a frequent Iannucci collaborator who has directed episodes of The Thick of It and Avenue 5. Bailey also just finished directing episodes of Run for HBO, also executive produced by Leo and Roskill.

"As with other films I’ve been involved with in the past, Sumo is the perfect feel-good movie with a heartfelt message at its core that audiences love all around the world," said Zenou. "Richard’s script is literally laugh-out-loud funny whilst delicately exploring themes around body issues, bullying and self-worth. We cannot wait to bring it — and the explosive power of sumo wrestling — to the big screen."

Sumo is scheduled to start shooting in Cape Town, South Africa in late spring. Casting is underway with more announcements set to be made soon.