“Beasts of the Southern Wild” director Benh Zeitlin is finally gearing up to premiere his long-in-the-works new drama “Wendy” next year. Fox Searchlight Pictures has announced the drama will open in theaters February 28, 2020, making a world premiere at either the Sundance Film Festival or the Berlin Film Festival a possibility should the studio go the festival route. “Wendy” is Zeitlin’s first directorial since the release of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” in 2012.
Fox Searchlight’s official “Wendy” synopsis reads: “The classic story of Peter Pan is wildly reimagined in this ragtag epic from Benh Zeitlin, director of ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild.’ Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.”
“Wendy” will open in theaters nearly eight years after “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and the film industry has spent much of the time in between wondering about Zeitlin’s whereabouts. The project was first announced back in August 2015 and began production in 2017. Zeitlin shot “Wendy” on Montserrat, an island south of Antigua significantly depopulated following a major volcanic eruption two decades ago, but news of a potential release never got out as the director tinkered with the project during filming and post-production.
Zeitlin became an instant breakout at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival with “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize. The film would go on to win the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and earn strong universal acclaim. “Beasts” shocked the industry with four Oscar nominations, including bids for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress for Quvenzhané Wallis, who at 9 years old became the category’s youngest nominee in history. “Beasts” was also hugely profitable for Fox Searchlight, grossing just over $23 million on a $1.8 million production budget.
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The breakthrough success of “Beasts” (IndieWire recently named it one of the 100 best movies of the decade) and Zeitlin’s surprise Best Director nomination at the Academy Awards was always going to put anticipation on his follow-up movie, but the eight-year wait for “Wendy” has created an even bigger spotlight. Check out the first look photos from “Wendy” in the pictures above and below.