hillbilly elegy

Ron Howard is the latest filmmaker to land a multi-million dollar deal with Netflix. The streaming giant took on his latest film, Hillbilly Elegy, for a whopping $45 million after a competitive bidding situation in which Netflix nearly doubled the offers of its rivals.

Deadline reports that Hillbilly Elegy, directed by Howard and penned by The Shape of Water scribe Vanessa Taylor, has been picked up by Netflix in a $45 million deal. The streaming giant will fully finance the film, which is based on J.D. Vance‘s bestselling 2016 memoir of the same name.

Howard’s Imagine Entertainment landed the book rights to Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis in 2017 after its own heated bidding war. The book, which tells Vance’s personal story of growing up in the Rust Belt and examines the interplay of the race and privilege in America, was a bestseller for 74 weeks. Deadline notes that the film was a “passion project for Howard,” who is directing and producing with his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer and the company’s Karen Lunder.

Here is the book synopsis for Hillbilly Elegy:

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

Deadline notes that the hefty deal suggests that Netflix intends this film for theatrical release as well, an option that is becoming more enticing for the service after the awards success of Roma and the viral momentum of Bird Box. It wouldn’t be a surprise, as Netflix seems to give theatrical preference to its more high-profile directors.

Howard is the latest filmmaker to join forces with Netflix to pursue his passion project. Martin Scorsese is currently helming The Irishman for the streaming platform, an ambitious and costly project that apparently is just a drop in the bucket for Netflix. It’s unlikely that Howard’s film will be quite as high-budget, but it’s nice to see him developing smaller, personal films after he helped shepherd the troubled Solo: A Star Wars Story to middling critical and commercial success. Howard has always been a thoroughly solid director, but if given the creative license as he did with the surprisingly kinetic Rush, he could potentially deliver something great.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: