Naomi Watts and director Phillip Noyce are joining forces for the thriller “Lakewood,” set to begin filming Sept. 16 in Ontario under strict COVID-19 protocols.
The film, written by Chris Sparling (“Buried,” “Greenland”) and produced by Boies/Schiller’s Zack Schiller and David Boies, Limelight’s Dylan Sellers and Chris Parker, Untapped’s Andrew Corkin, star Watts for Jam Tart Films and Stratagem’s Alex Lalonde, has echoes from today’s headlines.
“Lakewood” follows a mother (Watts) who desperately races against time to save her child as authorities place her small town on lockdown.
The run-up to filming “Lakewood” was nearly as suspenseful. A month before principal photography was set to begin, the two-time Oscar nominee (“The Impossible,” “21 Grams”) and veteran producer (“The Painted Veil”) was unsure if her project would move forward as SAG-AFTRA regulations and other pandemic-related issues were being worked out.
“It seems like Canada has everything very under control,” says Watts, who premieres her latest acting/producing effort, “Penguin Bloom,” at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival today. “They are doing serious quarantines, and we have to take all the safety measures very seriously. That’s the only way you can make [this] film.”
The feature is performed almost entirely by Watts (similar to the Tom Hardy-led thriller “Locke”), making it a “perfect movie” to film during the pandemic, according to Limelight’s Sellers. Noyce has a strong track record directing thrillers (“Dead Calm,” “Clear and Present Danger,” “Salt”) and indie dramas (“Rabbit-Proof Fence,” “The Quiet American.”)
Tyler Zacharia (“The Irishman,” “The Babysitter: Killer Queen”) helped structure the film’s financing and will executive produce it with Untapped’s Theo James, star of the “Divergent” franchise.
UTA Independent Film Group is representing U.S. rights alongside Endeavor Content and CAA Media Finance. Mister Smith is repping international rights.
Limelight produced the Andy Samberg-led comedy “Palm Springs, which had a record-breaking $22 million sale to Hulu/Neon after its Sundance premiere in January. The company and Boies/Schiller recently partnered on Theodore Melfi’s comedy/drama “The Starling” starring Melissa McCarthy, Kevin Kline and Chris O’Dowd, which Netflix acquired and co-financed in April. They also co-financed and executive produced the Spanish-language comedy “Miss Granny,” produced by Eugenio Derbez and Ben O’Dell of 3Pas Studios. Boies/Schiller’s “The Babysitter: Killer Queen” premiered this week on Netflix. Corkin’s feature producing credits include “A Vigilante.”
UTA represents Noyce, Sparling, Limelight and Untapped Prods. Watts is repped by WME and managed by Untitled Entertainment.
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