LONDON (Oct. 15, 2019) – U.K.-based financing and production outfit Goldfinch announced today that is has acquired the feature film rights to Nick Schuyler’s New York Times bestselling book, Not Without Hope, and will put the film into production in early 2020 with director Rupert Wainwright (Stigmata, The Fog) helming the project.
Goldfinch COO Phil McKenzie is overseeing the project on behalf of the indie studio and Rick French of Prix Productions (The True Don Quixote, Clear Lake) will produce, in association with Wainwright’s Adore Creative Content. Prix Productions is the film and long-form content division of French/West/Vaughan, the integrated marketing agency headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Tampa. French serves as Chairman & CEO of FWV.
Shannon Makhanian (Killers Anonymous) of Urban Tales Casting will begin casting this month for Not Without Hope.
Schuyler’s story recounts his dramatic rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard 70 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico following a boating accident that left three friends dead, including NFL players Marquis Cooper (Oakland Raiders) and Corey Smith (Detroit Lions) and his former University of South Florida teammate and best friend, Will Bleakley.
Schuyler’s story, which dates to 2009, was featured on an Emmy-nominated episode of HBO Real Sports and was the subject of a one-hour Oprah Winfrey special. The book describes how the four men worked together to brave one of the worst storms to hit the Gulf of Mexico in a quarter century before their fishing boat capsized and hypothermia began taking each man. Schuyler was near death when a determined Coast Guard captain and his crew commissioned a large Coast Guard cutter out of Cuba and brought it north to slice through the storm, discovering him clinging to life by the engine mount.
Dwayne Johnson was originally slated to star in the film when it was set up at Relativity, but the mini-major studio’s bankruptcy in 2015 shelved those plans and tied the story rights up in bankruptcy court before French was able to negotiate a deal with the studio’s creditors to acquire the Nicholas Mariani (The Man in the Black Suit) penned screenplay.
“I am incredibly impressed by the passion Rupert Wainwright and Phil McKenzie have brought to this project,” said French. “Goldfinch has helped finance and produce hundreds of films, and they have attached an outstanding director who wants to tell Nick’s story authentically and honor the memories of his friends.”
“This is one of those emotional stories that takes an audience on a powerful journey,” says Wainwright. “It’s a story of friendship and teamwork, but also of struggle in the face of tragedy and the elements. It’s a wonderful piece for actors, which is why the material has attracted such iconic leading men, and a powerful visual piece. I was so moved by the book, and the script does an amazing job of telling that story with no compromise. On top of that, I couldn’t wish for more committed and passionate partners on this project as Phil and Rick.”