Luke Hemsworth Action Pic Gunner Adds Three; Freddie Stevenson Doc Trials To Triumph Acquired By Gravitas Ventures; BlackBerry Nabs SFFILM Prize; More Film Briefs

EXCLUSIVE: Grant Feely (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Connor DeWolfe (The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers) and Mykel Shannon Jenkins (Double Jeopardy) have been tapped for roles alongside Luke Hemsworth, Morgan Freeman and Joseph Baena in the upcoming actioner, Gunner.

The film from writer-director Dimitri Logothetis (Jiu Jitsu), which is currently shooting in Alabama, follows Special Ops veteran Lee Gunner (Hemsworth) as he takes his two sons (DeWolfe, Feely) on a fishing trip to reconnect. The trip soon turns awry when the boys stumble upon a massive drug running operation and are kidnapped by Dobbs (Jenkins), the son of gang kingpin Kendric Ryker (Freeman) who runs his organization from prison. With no one but himself to retaliate and with elite combat skills they won’t see coming, an enraged Gunner wreaks havoc to rescue his two sons from Ryker’s gang. 

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Feely is repped by A3 Artists Agency, Aligned Stars and PKM Talent Management; DeWolfe by CESD and Semaphore; and Jenkins by Momentum Talent and Literary Agency.


EXCLUSIVE: Gravitas Ventures has picked up worldwide rights to the sports documentary Trials to Triumph, based on the memoir by former NFL star Freddie Stevenson, slating it for release on digital platforms on May 2nd.

The film directed by Dan Ratner, Greg Romano and Misa Garcia tells the story of Stevenson’s meteoric football career, the crash that followed and his reinvention, also spotlighting stories of struggle and redemption from actor Maurice Benard, former pro football player Delvin Breaux, motivational speaker Tony Gaskins and more. Ratner, Romano and Stevenson served as producers for the project.

“Telling this story was important to me because although I was able to overcome my humble beginnings and being homeless to accomplish my dream of making it to the NFL, I felt like my life had no purpose after my playing career was over,” said Stevenson. “Being able to reinvent myself truly made me feel like I had found my life’s purpose. I wanted to include the Trials To Triumph stories from other people as well to provide different perspectives from all angles of life. I truly believe that this film will save lives and help many people across the world find a sense of purpose.”

Pic’s deal was negotiated by Major Dodge and Gravitas’ Bill Guentzler.


EXCLUSIVE: Veteran producer Patrick Cheh of WakingUp Media has secured film and television rights to all six novels in the WingMakers series, including the upcoming sci-fi thriller Copernicus, focused on a clash between humanity and the self-aware AI computer system of the same name, which he plans to adapt for TV.

The novels boasting a dedicated international following, which deal with themes of multidimensionality, cosmic history, technology and consciousness, are written by an anonymous author under the pen name James Mahu. The first five have gained traction since their initial publication in the 1990s, as they’ve been translated into 18 languages and shipped to 80 countries around the world. 

Notable past credits for Cheh include the serial killer thriller The Watcher, starring James Spader, Marisa Tomei, Keanu Reeves and Ernie Hudson, which was released by Universal in 2000, as well as the drama Crossing, which was South Korea’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2008.


EXCLUSIVE: SFFILM has set Matt Johnson’s buzzy Berlin and SXSW title BlackBerry, on the rise and fall of the world’s first mass market smart device, as the 2023 recipient of its Sloan Science on Screen Prize, celebrating the compelling depiction of scientific themes or characters in a narrative feature film, with $5,000 now to be presented to the filmmakers.

The prize is presented annually through a partnership between SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. BlackBerry will be joined in screening at the upcoming edition of the SFFILM Festival, taking place from April 13-23, by Sophie Barthes’ The Pod Generation — another Sloan Science on Screen title, starring Emilia Clarke and Chiwetel Ejiofor. 

The former film will screen at San Francisco’s Premier Theater on April 17 at 7:30 p.m., with co-writer-director Johnson and UC Berkeley physicist Joel Moore expected to be in attendance for a Q&A. The latter will play at Dolby Cinema on April 19 at 7:30 p.m., with Barthes to be present for a conversation with Dolby Institute Director, Glenn Kiser.


EXCLUSIVE: Brain Dead Studios has unveiled the release plans for its debut feature Dogleg, setting an exclusive limited premiere at Brain Dead Studios Fairfax in Los Angeles on April 13th, 14th and 16th. NYC screenings will follow at The Roxy Cinema on April 22nd and 29th, and at Elsewhere on the 26th.

Al Warren directed and stars in the film, told through a series of interlocking vignettes, as amateur director Alan, who loses his fiancé’s dog at a gender reveal party on the day of an important shoot. As he struggles to finish his latest project with the help of a New York critic, the pursuit of the lost dog and the chaos of his film begin to blend and Alan grows desperate for the day to be over. 

Michael Bible and Warren penned the script, with Babak Khoshnoud and Yours Truly producing, and Brain Dead Studios’ Steve Smith and Meg Murnane serving as EPs. Pic’s cast also includes Angela Trimbur, David Aaron Baker, Ella Smith, Kristoffer Borgli, Courtney Pauroso, Dylan Redford, Bridey Elliott, Dabbs Anderson, Vatana Shaw, Nick Pinkerton, Sally Mullins, Chad Damiani and DeMorge Brown.

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