Roadside Attractions has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to “The Peanut Butter Falcon” starring Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson, the company announced Wednesday.
The adventure comedy made its world premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival and won an Audience Award, and Roadside will release the film on Aug. 9.
Newcomer Zack Gottsagen, an actor with Down syndrome whose character also deals with the condition, stars in the film that’s described as a modern Mark Twain adventure. Zak (Gottsagen) is a young man who runs away from a residential nursing home to follow his dream of attending the professional wrestling school of his idol, The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). A strange turn of events pairs him on the road with Tyler (LaBeouf), a small time outlaw on the run, who becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (Johnson), a kind nursing home employee charged with Zak’s return, to join them on their journey.
“The Peanut Butter Falcon” also stars Bruce Dern, John Hawkes, Jon Bernthal, and Yelawolf. It’s written and directed by Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson. Schwartz and Nilson wrote the film specifically for Gottsagen after they met him at a camp for disabled actors and were inspired by his fierce determination to become a leading man in Hollywood.
Tim Zajaros and Christopher Lemole of Armory Films financed and serve as producers on the film alongside Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa of Bona Fide Productions, as well as Lije Sarki and David Thies. Manu Gargi, Armory Films’ Aaron Scotti, Michelle Sie Whitten (co-founder and executive director of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation in Denver), Timothy P. Shriver (Chairman of the Special Olympics) and Anthony K. Shriver (Best Buddies International Founder) serve as executive producers.
“We couldn’t be more proud of how the movie turned out, the performances are incredible,” Schwartz and Nilson said in a statement. “Roadside Attractions’ has released some of our favorite movies and their enthusiasm for this project is exciting. We can’t wait for audiences to get the chance to join Zack, Shia and Dakota on their adventure.”
“The trio of Zack, Shia and Dakota is unlike any we’ve seen before and their adventure is awesome, heartwarming and inspiring,” Roadside co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to bring the movie to theaters and to work with such great new filmmakers as Michael and Tyler.”
Endeavor Content is handling international sales. The deal was negotiated between Howard Cohen and Angel An of Roadside Attractions, and Endeavor Content and CAA on behalf of the filmmakers.