Steve Carr saddles up for 'March'

Nabs feature rights to Ross McElwee's 1986 documentary

Steve Carr, the director behind broad comedy hits "Daddy Day Care" and "Next Friday," is taking an offbeat turn by picking up the rights to "Sherman's March," Ross McElwee's 1986 documentary that won one of Sundance Film Festival's earliest grand jury prizes.

"March," which Carr would direct as a fictional feature, will serve as the inaugural project for Rumpus Entertainment, the shingle recently formed by Carr and producing partner Jason Taragon.

McElwee received a grant to make a documentary about the effects of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's march through the South during the Civil War, but he got dumped just before filming. He shifted focus on the film, instead telling a personal story about the women in McElwee's life.

The documentary was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry for being "culturally significant."

Carr first saw the doc on PBS in the 1980s while living in Brooklyn, and it stuck with him. When he was shooting his latest comedy, Happy Madison/Columbia's Kevin James-starrer "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," Taragon informed him that McElwee was now a professor teaching film at nearby Harvard. Carr called him and invited him to the set.

"It took four or five meetings for me to convince him that I wasn't some fast-talking Hollywood guy and to let me get the feature film rights," Carr said.

Carr and Taragon intend to turn "March" into a smaller, quirky comedy, keeping the original's tone but producing something that will feel akin to "Sideways" or "Little Miss Sunshine."

The project is out to writers.

"For me, this is an opportunity to explore the other nature that I have in terms of filmmaking," Carr said. "I love making big studio movies and doing broad comedy where people get hit in the crotch, but this is another side of me. It's more cerebral and introspective."