Just days after Jason Reitman released “Tully” to disappointing box-office results, his eighth film has found a distributor. Sony Pictures will rollout his big-screen telling of former Colorado Senator Gary Hart’s doomed political career. Aussie Hugh Jackman is set to star in the namesake role, a candidate for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination who was forced to suspend his campaign after his affair with campaign aide Donna Rice surfaced.
“Having grown up wandering around the Columbia lot as a kid, it is a particular thrill to bring ‘The Front Runner’ back home to the first studio I can remember,” said Reitman, whose father, Ivan Reitman, directed “Ghostbusters” and “Stripes” for Columbia before it was acquired by Sony in 1989. “I cannot wait for movie goers to see Hugh’s humanist transformation into one of the more complicated political figures of our time.”
Both of Jackman’s 2017 films yielded surprising, beyond-the-norm successes: Marvel tentpole “Logan” received a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination, while “The Greatest Showman” — a musical from a first-time director that never topped the U.S. box office — nonetheless earned more than $430 million in theaters worldwide. Jackman received a Golden Globe nomination for the latter.
Despite the scandal, Hart never divorced his wife, Lee, portrayed here by Vera Farmiga. Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) co-stars as campaign advisor Bill Dixon, while “Silicon Valley” co-creator Mike Judge steps into the role of a news editor who trailed Hart’s marital transgressions.
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“It is great to be working with Jason again, and this material is right in his wheelhouse,” said Sony Pictures president of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution Josh Greenstein, who was at Paramount when that studio debuted Reitman’s previous Farmiga collaboration, “Up in the Air.” “Hugh Jackman is transformative in this role.”
The film is based on “All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid” by Matt Bai, once chief political correspondent for the New York Times Magazine. Bai adapted his own text with Reitman and veteran “House of Cards” producer Jay Carson. Financier BRON Studios produced with the director and his Right of Way Films partner Helen Estabrook, herself an Oscar nominee for “Whiplash.”
Sony brings “The Front Runner” to theaters this fall.