Mark Wahlberg Drama ‘Good Joe Bell’ Acquired by Solstice Studios in $20 Million Deal

LGBTQ family drama that premiered at TIFF also stars Reid Miller, Connie Britton and Gary Sinise

Last Updated: September 19, 2020 @ 5:56 PM

Solstice Studios has acquired worldwide rights to the Mark Wahlberg drama “Good Joe Bell” for $20 million, an individual with knowledge of the sale told TheWrap.

The film also stars Reid Miller, Connie Britton and Gary Sinise. Solstice aims to release it in theaters for awards season.

“Good Joe Bell,” which made its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, is based on a true story of a man who travels by foot across the country to educate about the dangers of bullying in high school after his gay son experiences abuse from his classmates.

TheWrap’s Steve Pond wrote in his review for “Good Joe Bell” that Wahlberg “gives an effective Everyman performance and that it’s an effective tearjerker, even if it does not have the impact of the screenwriters’ ‘Brokeback Mountain.'”

“An open-hearted, unapologetically emotional story of a man struggling to come to terms with what happened to his son and with his own complicity in it,” Pond wrote in his review. “It’s a quietly affecting road trip that gets to where it wants to go and may prompt a few tears along the way.”

“Good Joe Bell” is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green from a script by Larry McMurty and Diana Ossana. The film was produced by Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker, Eva Maria Daniels, Cary Fukunaga, Ryan Ahrens, Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson.

“Good Joe Bell” is a co-production of Argent Pictures, Endeavor Content, Hercules Film Fund, Rhea Films, Stay Gold Features, Nine Stories Productions, VisionChaos, Parliament of Owls and Wahlberg/Levinson. The film’s executive producers are Jill Ahrens, Ben Renzo, Derrick Brooks, Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis, Terry Dougas, Jean-Luc De Fanti, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ossana, McMurtry, Peter Pastorelli and Uwe R. Feuersenger.

Solstice is a new distribution house that launched this summer on the back of the Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged,” making it the first movie released in theaters ahead of even films like “Tenet,” “The New Mutants” or “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” Thus far, “Unhinged” has brought in $26.4 million worldwide after opening domestically on Aug. 14.

$20 million is also a large sale for a festival in which it was uncertain if studios or distributors would be willing to open their wallets, considering the uncertainty of the theatrical market. Yet many of the buzziest titles to play at the slimmed-down festival have already been picked up, including “MLK/FBI,” “Bruised,” “Shadow in the Cloud” and “Pieces of a Woman.”

Crystal Bourbeau, head of Acquisitions and International, and Mark Gill for Solstice Studios negotiated the deal with Endeavor Content.

Deadline first reported the news of the sale.