Michael Showalter, fresh off his independent hit The Big Sick last year, has been tapped to direct Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer in their untitled holiday comedy for Universal that was announced in January, the Tracking Board confirms.
Universal won the rights to finance and distribute the comedy based on the original pitch from Chastain’s Freckle Films with Showalter’s attachment as a director helping to get the project fast-tracked.
The pitch is a female-driven road comedy in the vein of Planes, Trains and Automobiles where the two actors play two women who depend on each other to get home in time for Christmas.
The original treatment was written by Chastain and Kelly Carmichael with Crazy Rich Asians‘ Peter Chiarelli writing the screenplay. Chastain will produce via Freckle Films along with Maven Pictures’ Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler, as well as Carmichael producing. Erik Baiers, exec. VP of production at Universal, and creative executive Mika Pryce are overseeing for the studio.
Chastain and Spencer previously starred together in Tate Taylor’s adaptation of The Help for Dreamworks, for which they both received supporting actress Oscars, which Spencer won.
As a long-time fan of pretty much everything Showalter has done throughout his career, I’m particularly excited to see him finally directing a studio movie with such prestigious stars, although I have a feeling this comedy will be more meant for popular entertainment than awards.
A founding member of The State, Showalter also co-wrote and starred in the indie comedy Wet Hot American Summer, which led to two series for Netflix, one a prequel and the other a sequel, all directed by David Wain. Besides The Big Sick, Showalter also directed The Baxter and Hello, My Name is Doris starring Sally Field, as well as episodes of the Netflix series Love and Grace and Frankie. He is represented by UTA, Principato-Young Entertainment and Stone Genow.
Showalter’s attachment was first reported by Variety.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor