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Stephan James and JK Simmons to Star in College Sports Drama ‘National Champions’ From Ric Roman Waugh

Movie set at STXfilms will begin shooting this May in New Orleans

Stephan James and J.K. Simmons are set to star in “National Champions,” a college sports drama from “Angel Has Fallen” director Ric Roman Waugh that’s set up at STXfilms.

The “Beale Street” star James will play a star college quarterback who ignites a players strike 72 hours before the biggest game of the year in order to fight for fair compensation, equality, and respect for the athletes who put their bodies and health on the line for their schools. Simmons’ role is unclear.

Adam Mervis wrote the script based on his play of the same name. “National Champions” will begin shooting in New Orleans next month.

The film is produced by Basil Iwanyk and Brendon Boyea of Thunder Road and Greg Economou of game1. Jonathan Fuhrman of Thunder Road, Matthew Helderman and Luke Taylor of Bondit Media Capital, Christian Mercuri of The Capstone Group, Michael Smith, and Adam Mervis are executive producers.

“National Champions” is being fully financed by BondIt Media Capital and The Capstone Group. CAA Media Finance Group and Range Media Partners brokered the deal.

“Our experience with Ric on ‘Greenland’ was nothing short of extraordinary,” STX’s Adam Fogelson said in a statement. “When we had the opportunity to work with him and our friends at Thunder Road and game1 on ‘National Champions,’ we jumped at the chance. This is a film that taps into important issues and does it with compelling, authentic, and memorable characters. In the best tradition of sports dramas, they will leave audiences rooting for victory and perhaps considering the competitive nature of college sports and athletics in a different way.”

James recently starred in “#FreeRayShawn,” a drama from producer Antione Fuqua which premiered on Quibi in April 2020 and for which he earned his first Emmy nomination. He also starred in Season Two of “Homecoming.” Next up James stars in “Delia’s Gone” with Marisa Tomei and in “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace” alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is also directing the film based on the Jeff Hobbs novel.

J.K. Simmons recently starred in “Palm Springs” and “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” and he’ll next be seen alongside Chris Pratt in “The Tomorrow War.” Both James and Simmons are reuniting after starring together in “21 Bridges” with Chadwick Boseman.

Waugh last directed “Greenland” starring Gerard Butler.

Waugh is represented by Range MP; James is represented by Norbert Abrams of Noble Caplan Abrams, Range MP and CAA; Simmons is represented by Gersh and Wolf Kasteler; Mervis is represented by Grandview and A3.

Deadline first reported the news.