Reese Witherspoon will be reteaming with award-winning author Nick Hornby, who wrote the screenplay for her Oscar-nominated film Wild, to make THIS ABOVE ALL, a movie telling the true story of Westboro Baptist Church survivor and convert Megal Phelps-Roper. Marc Webb is attached to direct, the Tracking Board can confirm.
Adapted from the New Yorker article by Adrian Chen and Phelps-Roper’s upcoming memoir to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, it follows the granddaughter of Fred Phelps, infamous founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, which became better known for its hate speech against LGBT and other religions since forming in 1955.
Phelps-Roper used to be hugely active in the church, handling its social media and holding a picket sign at many of Westboro’s events before beginning to question her belief system with the opposition she faced on Twitter. Her and her younger sister eventually made the decision to leave the Church and were disowned by their family for doing so.
The film is jointly produced by River Road Entertainment and Condé Nast Entertainment along with Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea’s Made Up Stories, as well as Webb.
Dawn Ostroff and Jeremy Steckler are producing for Condé Nast Entertainment (CNÉ) as one of the publishing company’s first forays into feature films with Bill Pohlad producing for River Road, who will also finance.
Webb’s latest movie The Only Living Boy in New York is currently in theaters, his second movie of the year after directing Gifted earlier this year. That family drama grossed $24.8 million. Prior to that, Webb directed The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel for Sony, which followed his Sundance fave (500) Days of Summer, which helped put him on the map after directing many music videos.
Repped by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates, Hornby began his career as an acclaimed author of novels like Fever Pitch, About A Boy and High Fidelity, all of which were adapted into feature films. The movie based on his later novel Juliet, Naked is currently filming.
Hornby would then transition into movies writing the screenplays for An Education and last year’s Brooklyn, both for which he received Oscar nominations. As mentioned above, he also adapted Cheryl Strayed’s writings into the screenplay for Wild, which was also produced by Made Up Stories.
Pohlad was another one of the producers on Wild, as well as having produced Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and recent Voyage of Time, the Bryan Wilson biopic Love & Mercy (which Pohlad also directed) and Richard Gere’s Time Out of Mind.
The deal was negotiated by Christa Zofcin Workman for River Road with CAA representing CNÉ, Megan Phelps-Roper, Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea and Mark Webb. Phelps-Roper is also represented by Melissa Flashman at Janklow & Nesbit Associates.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor