John Boyega to Star in Cathy Yan’s ‘The Freshening’ With Ali Wong Producing

FilmNation is financing the sci-fi flick with Adam McKay also among its producers

John Boyega Cathy yan Ali Wong
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John Boyega will star in the next film from “Dead Pigs” and “Birds of Prey” director Cathy Yan. The sci-fi romance “The Freshening” comes from FilmNation Entertainment with Ali Wong producing alongside Hyperobject Industries’ Adam McKay and Betsy Koch and Rewild’s Yan and Ash Sarohia

The picture, set to film later this year, is inspired by Rachel Khong’s short story in the Paris Review.  

The official logline for the feature states “In an America of the “freshening” — where everyone is only able to see their own race and gender — Sam and Reese meet on a drug that temporarily reverses its effects.” 

“We are tremendously excited to have John [Boyega] bring this complex character and story to life,” stated the producers, “and can’t wait to begin filming with this incredible group of likeminded creatives.” 

“It’s a dream to work with John Boyega, a singular talent whose commitment to his craft and willingness to take risks have delivered such memorable, wide-ranging performances,” added director Yen. “I know he’ll bring incredible depth and nuance to Reese. I’m thrilled he’s on for this wild ride.” 

FilmNation is financing and handling worldwide sales. 

Boyega, whose breakout turn in “Attack the Block” led to a starring role in Walt Disney’s “Star Wars” sequel trilogy, followed up that tentpole experience with starring roles in “Detroit” and “Pacific Rim: Uprising” along with recently acclaimed turns in “Breaking” and “The Woman King.” He will next be seen alongside Jamie Foxx, Keifer Sutherland and Teyonah Parris in Netflix’s “They Cloned Tyrone.” 

Wong is an acclaimed stand-up comic who, along with a starring role alongside Randall Park in Netflix’s “Always Be My Maybe,” had a brief role in Yan’s DC Films flick as the former flame of Rosie Perez’s Renee Montoya.  

Yan was an all-too-rare beneficiary of the indie-to-tentpole pipeline that usually benefits white male directors, with the director getting hired to helm Margot Robbie’s R-rated Harley Quinn spin-off before her acclaimed “Dead Pigs” even got a release date.  

Despite strong reviews and generally decent buzz from those who showed up, the female ensemble crime comedy was a commercial disappointment in early 2020, earning $200 million off an $82 million budget. Yan has since become an Emmy-nominated television director for directing the third episode of the third season of HBO’s “Succession.”  

If Boyega starring in “The Force Awakens” and a “Pacific Rim” sequel was meant to signal that non-white actors could front global franchise tentpoles, and if Yan directing a DC Comics superhero flick meant that “not a white guy” filmmakers weren’t always designated to demographically specific projects, then a film like “The Freshening” is another chance to show that these promising talents don’t need to rely on franchise/tentpole opportunities to shine bright on the big screen.