EXCLUSIVE: While still in post with Compelling Pictures on the Warhol-Basquiat film The Collaboration, based on the play he directed in both its debut London run and its Broadway transfer, Kwame Kwei-Armah has closed a deal to direct Mission Hill, a Boston-set crime thriller that will mark a reteam with the producer-financier.
Based on an original screenplay by Michael McGrale (The Following), developed by Compelling, Mission Hill is based on a real-life homicide case that brought Boston to its knees in 1989. It follows an up-and-coming police officer and a seasoned detective racing against time to bring a suspect in before the city implodes over racial tensions.
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Compelling Pictures will finance and produce the film which is aiming for a late 2023 start date, pending the ongoing WGA strike and potential other labor actions from SAG-AFTRA and the DGA. (The latter guild struck a tentative new deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over the weekend, though it must now go before the Guild’s National Board for approval.)
Producing alongside Compelling is Peter Craig — who’s coming off his first Oscar nomination for his contributions to the screenplay of Top Gun: Maverick — as well as Jay Giannone. Exec producers are Kwei-Armah and McGrale, Steven Garcia for Compelling, Max Goldfarb for Redefine Entertainment, Marina Cappi for Marina Studios Productions, Ori Allon and Sal Monaco for White Lodge Productions, Tanner Beard, Lexie Beard, Janice Beard, Dennis Casali and Joshua Kushner. Two-time Emmy nominee Kim Coleman (Lovecraft Country) is handling the film’s casting.
“I’m overjoyed to be working with Compelling Pictures again on this amazing project,” said Kwei-Armah. “I couldn’t put it down when I began to read it. Overjoyed.”
“Mission Hill is a passion project for Jeff, Peter, and myself. Having just had the great pleasure of working with Kwame, we couldn’t be more excited to help bring his vision to life,” stated Compelling Pictures principal Denis O’Sullivan. “It all began with Mike’s riveting script, which has been waiting patiently since 2021 for a great director to take the reins. We’re honored to tell this story of a city that has been seen in movies we love, but rarely from this perspective, and we can’t wait for a global audience to experience this epic, propulsive ride.”
Added producer Craig, “Mike Mcgrale’s script is among the best I’ve ever read – and I’m so happy to see it now in the hands of a talented director like Kwame.”
Kwei-Armah teamed with actors Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope on both the stage and screen versions of the Anthony McCarten-penned The Collaboration, which revolves around the relationship between the iconic artists Warhol and Basquiat, starting in the summer of 1984. Otherwise known for stage productions like The Visitor and One Love: The Bob Marley Musical, he also notably co-wrote and exec produced the veteran thriller Breaking starring John Boyega, which world premiered at Sundance and was released in theaters by Bleecker Street.
Headed by O’Sullivan (Bohemian Rhapsody) and and Jeff Kalligheri (I Wanna Dance with Somebody), Compelling Pictures most recently released the McCarten-scripted Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody, starring BAFTA winner Naomi Ackie, which Sony Pictures took worldwide this past Christmas. Helmed by Kasi Lemmons, the film currently streaming on Netflix landed the #1 spot on the U.S. film chart in its first two weeks on the platform.
Kwei-Armah is repped by CAA, United Agents in the UK, Redefine and attorney Linda Lichter; McGrale by APA, Heroes and Villains, and attorney Will Jacobson; Craig by CAA and Grandview; and Compelling by Evan Krauss of Eisner LLP.
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