Mark Wahlberg will enter this year's Oscar race with his film "Joe Bell," which Solstice Studios will release Feb. 19, 2021, under a new title and with a new edit.
Solstice Studios acquired Reinaldo Marcus Green's "Good Joe Bell" out of the Toronto International Film Festival back in September in a $20 million deal, and the film stars Wahlberg as Joe Bell in a true story of a working-class father who embarks on a solo walk across the United States to educate about the effects of bullying and how his gay teenage son Jadin was tormented in high school.
"Joe Bell" also stars Connie Britton and Reid Miller, and "Brokeback Mountain" writers Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry are behind the screenplay. Wahlberg is also a producer on the film, and the new cut also includes a new original song over the end credits from songwriter Diane Warren.
"Joe Bell" shows how Wahlberg's character walked from Oregon to New York City, delivering a simple message of tolerance from a father's perspective, hoping to reach those who may be open to hearing it from someone like themselves. Confronting many hardships, Joe ultimately shows us all that you can make a difference if you just take it one step at a time.
TheWrap's Steve Pond praised Wahlberg performance out of TIFF, writing in his review, "Walhberg is entirely believable as a man trying to unlearn what were once his blunt, oafish responses to anything he didn't want to face."
"The version of the film that was screened at Toronto was very promising, and after working with the filmmakers and Mark Wahlberg on a revised cut, we feel it has now reached its full potential," Mark Gill, president and CEO of Solstice Studios, said in a statement. "Thanks to a lot of hard work as well as the addition of a new original end title song from legendary songwriter Diane Warren, we believe this film now has newfound power and emotional potency that substantially elevates its very important message. We are grateful to the filmmakers and cast for bringing us the opportunity to carry on the work Joe Bell started."
"This is a story that is very important to me personally. Joe Bell is a man who didn't understand certain things about the world until he was faced with them in his own life -- as a father," Wahlberg said in a statement. "As a parent myself, I know how much fatherhood can change a man. This is a story told from a very personal point of view, from the heart of a man who walked from town to town to reach families just like his, delivering a message of tolerance to people who often didn't want to hear it at first. It shows us how a series of small steps can add up and make a big difference for the people in this country who need to know they are loved and accepted."
The producers on "Joe Bell" are Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker, Eva Maria Daniels, Cary Fukunaga, Ryan Ahrens, Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson. Executive producers are Jill Ahrens, Ben Renzo, Derrick Brooks, Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis, Terry Dougas, Jean-Luc De Fanti, Jake Gyllenhaal, Diana Ossana, Larry McMurtry, Peter Pastorelli, and Uwe R. Feuersenger. The movie is a co-production between Argent Pictures, Endeavor Content, Hercules Film Fund, Rhea Films, Stay Gold Features, Nine Stories Productions, VisionChaos, Parliament of Owls and Wahlberg/Levinson.
"Joe Bell" is the second theatrical release for Solstice Studios following the release of the Russell Crowe thriller "Unhinged" in August.