A zombie comedy/thriller starring Black Panther alum Lupita Nyong’o has been picked up for distribution in the U.S., Hilary Swank combats nurturing A.I., and The Grudge reboot gets its opening date delayed in this edition of SYFY WIRE’s development roundup.
First up, NEON and Hulu have won the U.S. distribution rights to Little Monsters, a film being described as “Zombieland-meets-Kindergarten Cop,” (now there's a pitch) starring Nyong’o, Alexander England, and Josh Gad. Deadline, which first broke the news, is reporting that the studios won the U.S. film rights at the Sundance Film Festival for “mid-seven figures.”
In the Abe Forsythe-directed film, after a bad breakup, Dave (England), a washed-up musician, crashes at his sister’s place. He quickly agrees to volunteer to chaperone his nephew’s kindergarten class field trip, but less because of altruism and more due to being smitten by his nephew’s schoolteacher, Miss Caroline (Nyong’o). Unfortunately, Dave has to compete for Miss Caroline’s affections with Teddy McGiggle (Gad), a famous — and obnoxious — children’s show personality. But even worse than that, they’re blindsided by a zombie attack, courtesy of an experiment at a nearby military base gone wrong. So, Dave, Miss Caroline, and Teddy must all work together to keep the kids safe and the monsters at bay.
Although the logistics behind NEON and Hulu’s partnership are currently being worked out, it will most likely work out to NEON distributing Little Monsters theatrically, with Hulu then streaming the film following its theatrical release. Protagonist Pictures will handle the international sales.
Also opening at Sundance is Grant Sputfore’s debut film, I Am Mother, a sci-fi feature starring Hilary Swank, Clara Rugaard, and Rose Byrne.
In a film that Variety is describing as “James Cameron crossbred with Ridley Scott,” I Am Mother takes place in a dystopian future where a robot with A.I. named Mother (voiced by Byrne) comes to life in an underground bunker the day humanity goes extinct. Following protocol, Mother selects one thumb-size embryo among 63,000, puts it into a biomedical Instant Pot, and 24 hours later, Daughter (Rugaard) is born. But eventually Swank shows up to the bunker as a wounded woman and has serious doubts about Mother’s account of Earth’s fate.
In a video from Deadline, Swank explains that she was “connected to the survivalist in my character,” adding that her character poses the question: “What do you do when you’re faced with a post-apocalyptic world?”
“I am fascinated by people who persevere… I was immediately drawn to the entire script and all the characters,” Swank added.
Sputore notes in the video: “It’s an important time to evaluate what our relationship with technology could look like in the coming years.”
And finally, bad news for those of you who were hoping to catch Nicholas Pesce’s reboot/not-reboot of The Grudge this summer. Screen Gems’ remake of the 2004 horror film, itself a remake of the 2002 Japanese film Ju-on, has been pushed back to a Jan. 3, 2020 release from its previously-announced June 21 opening, a Screen Gems rep confirmed with SYFY WIRE.
Pesce’s Grudge stars John Cho, Lin Shaye, Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, Betty Gilpin, and Jacki Weaver. Pesce told SYFY FANGRRLS at Fantastic Fest in October that his film would be “significantly different than the old Grudge movies." Looks like we’ll have to wait a few months more than anticipated to see for ourselves.