RLJ Entertainment has acquired all North American rights (for 2016 release), excluding theatrical, for writer/director Thomas K. Phillips’ feature film debut “The North Star.” Meanwhile, the production company, LuckPig Studios, will release the film in theaters in September 2015, beginning its run in Philadelphia, where the movie was filmed.
In the film, based on true events, former NFL linebacker Jeremiah Trotter stars as Big Ben Jones, alongside Thomas C. Bartley Jr. (who plays Moses Hopkins) as two slaves who escape from a Virginia plantation and make their way to freedom in Buckingham, Pennsylvania in 1849, where they are helped by local Quakers.
In addition to Trotter and Bartley, cast members for “The North Star” include Clifton Powell, Lynn Whitfield, John Diehl, Keith David, Christopher Mann, and April Woodall.
By the way, “The North Star” was the name of an anti-slavery newspaper published by Frederick Douglass in the 1800s.
“My wish is that ‘The North Star’ will resonate positively with its audience and show the good of humanity at such a dark time in American history. One of my goals is to shed light on the thousands of courageous individuals that took the perilous journey to freedom, leaving the only life known to them; a life of forced servitude and inhumane treatment, for a better life for themselves and future generations,” states director Thomas K. Philips. “In addition and most important to me, I hope that ‘The North Star’ will create a dialogue with audiences about how people came together for the cause of abolishing slavery; people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds who heard the word of God in their hearts and risked a great deal by their actions. I believe it is still relevant in solving some of today’s issues.”
The film’s original score was composed and performed by Grammy Award winner Ramsey Lewis with his son Frayne Lewis. American Idol finalist Jermaine Jones is featured on two tracks.
Also, a young adult novel adaptation of the film will be published this fall.
“The North Star” will open at the County Theater and Penn Cinema in Wilmington on Friday, September 18th, and will expand to theaters in NY, LA, Miami, Washington, DC and Chicago later this fall.
LuckPig Studios will celebrate the film’s theatrical release with a Philadelphia red carpet premiere at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, September 17th. Red carpet attendees will include writer and director Thomas K. Phillips, and producer and former Executive Director of the NAACP, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, along with key members of the cast. Tickets for the 5:30 PM screening and 8:00 PM red carpet premiere start at $12.99 and are available at kimmelcenter.org.
“The North Star” will also be featured on RLJE’s proprietary digital channel UMC – Urban Movie Channel, followed by a DVD and Digital HD release in early 2016.