Director David M. Rosenthal’s reimagining of “Jacob’s Ladder,” the 1990 psychological thriller directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Tim Robbins, is finally readying for release, six years after the project was launched. Written by Jeff Buhler and Sarah Thorp, this new take on the story stars Michael Ealy, Jesse Williams, and Nicole Beharie as part of an all-black cast.
First announced in 2013 and finally shot in 2016, LD Entertainment’s remake has remained mostly shrouded in secrecy. The production company’s stated goal was to produce more of an homage, rather than a copy of the original, contemporizing the story while remaining true to the issues it examines and questions raised.
In the original, scripted by Bruce Joel Rubin, the protagonist is a Vietnam veteran whose experiences prior to and during the war result in fragmented flashbacks and bizarre hallucinations that continue to haunt him as he desperately tries to get to the bottom of it all. Although not a box office hit (it grossed $26 million on a $25 million budget), the film went on to achieve cult hit status.
Co-produced by Will Packer Productions, the official synopsis for the 2019 remake reads: “After losing his brother in combat, Jacob Singer returns home from Afghanistan — only to be pulled into a mind-twisting state of paranoia. Singer soon realizes that his sibling is alive but life is not what it seems.”
The movie’s release has long been a question mark, even after LD Entertainment announced in August 2018 that it would open in theaters on February 1, 2019. That, of course, didn’t happen.
At the 2019 Cannes Film Market, indie distribution house Vertical Entertainment acquired U.S. rights to the film, and has now set an August theatrical premiere date, following an exclusive DISH July window premiere.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Vertical Entertainment has crafted a similar kind of a deal for a seemingly troubled film — one that went through multiple rewrites by at least three different writers, and two directors. In 2018, the distributor picked up Amma Asante’s much-maligned interracial Nazi romance, “Where Hands Touch,” and opened it in theaters followed by an exclusive window on DirecTV.
There was also Kevin Connolly’s 2018 biopic “Gotti,” another film that languished for several years. Originally set to be released in the United States in December 2017 by Lionsgate, it was delayed after the company sold the film back to its producers. It was then picked up by Vertical and, in a joint release with MoviePass Ventures, opened in theaters in June 2018. And like “Where Hands Touch,” it too was a critical and commercial flop.
It is likely that expectations for “Jacob’s Ladder” aren’t particularly high, but for fans of the film’s cast — especially for the talented if underused Beharie, who has been mostly absent from screens since exiting her Fox TV series “Sleepy Hollow” in 2016 — the wait is finally over.
Vertical Entertainment will release the film on August 23. Check out the trailer below.