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VARIETY – Searchlight Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to Annapurna’s “Nightbitch,” with six-time Oscar-nominee Amy Adams set to star. Marielle Heller wrote and will direct the film adaptation of Rachel Yoder’s acclaimed debut novel.
The movie, described as a “darkly comic neo-horror,” is currently in pre-production, with a scheduled production start this September in Los Angeles. “Nightbitch” will stream as a Hulu Original in the U.S., with additional release plans to be announced.
According to the official logline, Adams stars in the project as a woman “thrown into the stay-at-home routine of raising a toddler in the suburbs, who slowly embraces the feral power deeply rooted in motherhood, as she becomes increasingly aware of the bizarre and undeniable signs that she may be turning into a canine.”
In addition to starring in the project, Adams — who will next be seen in “Disenchanted,” the long-awaited follow-up to Disney’s smash hit “Enchanted” — also produces alongside Stacy O’Neil, via their Bond Group production banner. Bond Group and Annapurna initially acquired the rights to develop Yoder’s novel into the screenplay with Heller, with Searchlight acquiring the rights to the movie in a competitive worldwide sale.
“Rachel Yoder‘s book took my breath away,” said Heller. “I haven’t felt this way about it book since I read ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ many years ago. Rachel’s darkly hilarious tale of motherhood and rage made me feel seen. And adapting it with Amy Adams in mind has been the thing that has kept me going through the pandemic.”
The “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” filmmaker’s statement continued: “I am so thrilled to be bringing this movie to life with wonderful partners in Anne Carey, Annapurna Pictures and Searchlight. It is a dream come true.”
The acquisition deal marks a reunion for many of the parties involved. Heller previously worked with Searchlight Pictures when she directed 2018’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” starring Academy Award-nominated actors Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, which was produced by Carey’s Archer Gray production banner. In addition to that film, Heller and Carey first teamed for 2015’s “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” which ultimately earned Heller an Independent Spirit Award for best first feature, as well as a DGA nomination for first-time feature film. (Carey also produced that project.) Her other recent directing credits include the Oscar-nominated and critically acclaimed drama “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” as well as the filmed production of “What the Constitution Means to Me.”
The full list of producers on “Nightbitch” are Megan Ellison, Heller, Carey, Adams, O’Neil, Christina Oh, Adam Paulsen and Sue Naegle, with Sammy Scher and Havilah Brewster executive producing. Heller and Brewster will produce via their Defiant By Nature production banner.
Paul Hoffman, head of Searchlight business affairs, negotiated the worldwide deal with Annapurna Pictures and FilmNation Entertainment.
“We are long-time admirers of Amy Adams, and we are thrilled to join with Annapurna and this incredibly creative team of filmmakers to bring this unique story to the screen,” said Searchlight Presidents David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield. “We’re also delighted to reunite with Mari Heller and Anne Carey again following the collaboration on ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ Mari has brilliantly adapted Rachel Yoder’s stunning debut for what promises to be a provocative film.”
“Nightbitch” will be overseen by Searchlight production heads DanTram Nguyen and Katie Goodson-Thomas along with production SVP Taylor Friedman and creative affairs manager Cameron Chidsey.
Heller is repped by UTA and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole. Adams is repped by WME, Linden Entertainment, Narrative, and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.