New Line Acquiring Will Smith's 'Collateral Beauty' (Exclusive)

Will Smith - H 2015
Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Warner Bros./AP Images

'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' helmer Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is directing the film.

New Line Cinema is nearing a deal to acquire worldwide rights to Collateral Beauty, a drama that has Will Smith attached to star.

The feature will serve as the latest project from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who directed the acclaimed Sundance drama, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

The Allan Loeb-written script centers on a New York advertising exec who experiences a deep personal tragedy. His colleagues devise an unconventional plan to break him out of his depression — which works, but not in a way that anyone imagined. 

Smith, who will next be be seen in the NFL drama Concussion, will take on the lead role of the ad exec.

The project has been brewing all year, attracting high-profile talent as it was being packaged, and was even contemplating a Toronto market sale. Sources say there was a lot of interest in the buzzy project from buyers, especially as TIFF neared. New Line started negotiating the deal before the Labor Day weekend and will likely close this week.

Hugh Jackman was previously attached to the lead role but exited due to scheduling conflicts with his Wolverine project. Rooney Mara was also attached to the project at one time but is no longer.

PalmStar Media and Likely Story first got the rights to the script in June, with PalmStar full financing. The project is produced by Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar and Bard Dorros, along with Loeb. Palmstar CEO Kevin Frakes will executive produce with Anthony Bregman of Likely Story and Steven Pearl. Smith's Overbrook is co-producing.

Principal photography is slated to begin in the fall in New York. CAA and WME repped domestic rights.