Darren Aronofsky is getting into the A24 business with his next directorial feature “The Whale,” adapted from Samuel D. Hunter’s critically acclaimed 2012 play of the same name. According to Deadline, Aronofsky’s home studio Protozoa Pictures and A24 are co-producing the adaptation with Aronofsky directing and Hunter adapting his own play. The movie will mark Aronofsky’s follow-up project to “mother!,” which opened in theaters in 2017 via Paramount Pictures. Brendan Fraser is set to star in the lead role.
“Adapting my play into a screenplay has been a real labor of love for me,” Hunter said in a statement to Deadline. “This story is deeply personal and I’m very thankful it will have the chance to reach a wider audience. I’ve been a fan of Darren’s ever since I saw ‘Requiem for a Dream’ when I was a college freshman writing my first plays, and I’m so grateful that he’s bringing his singular talent and vision to this film.”
The approved synopsis for the film reads: “From Darren Aronofsky comes ‘The Whale,’ the story of a reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. Starring Brendan Fraser and based on the acclaimed play by Samuel D. Hunter.”
The synopsis for Hunter’s stage production of “The Whale” reads as follows (via Film Stage): “On the outskirts of Mormon Country, Idaho, a six hundred pound recluse hides away in his apartment eating himself to death. Desperate to reconnect with his long-estranged daughter, he reaches out to her, only to find a viciously sharp-tongued and wildly unhappy teen.”
While Deadline’s announcement does not confirm the involvement of Aronofsky’s longtime cinematographer Matthew Libatique, the DP revealed last month that he was prepping to shoot Aronofsky’s new project after his work on Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling” completed.
Per Deadline, the 2012 production of “The Whale won several honors, including “the Drama Desk Award, the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, and a GLAAD Media Award, plus Drama League and Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Play.”
The announcement of Aronofsky’s “The Whale” comes on the heels of last week’s news that A24 is also developing a new science-fiction movie with “Ex Machina” helmer Alex Garland. Both Aronofsky and Garland’s last feature films were Paramount releases that fizzled at the box office. “mother!” polarized audiences and didn’t crack $20 million domestically despite the star power of Jennifer Lawrence. Now Aronofsky will return to indies with his first A24 collaboration.