In-demand New York stage director Lila Neugebauer will make her feature debut on the project from first-time screenwriter Elizabeth Sanders, produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush.
Jennifer Lawrence has locked in her first new project since announcing she was taking a breather a year ago. While details are being kept under wraps, the film looks to be something of a return to the Oscar winner’s indie-scale roots with her breakout vehicle Winter’s Bone.
Scott Rudin and Eli Bush are producing through their IAC Films division and its partnership with A24, with Lawrence and Justine Polsky also on the producing team through their newly formed company Excellent Cadaver.
Lawrence’s return to the X-Men franchise, Dark Phoenix, opens June 7 from Fox.
The untitled new film project, written by first-time screenwriter Elizabeth Sanders, will mark the feature debut of Lila Neugebauer, who has quickly ascended in the past few years to become one of the most exciting young New York stage directors.
Principal photography will start mid-June in New Orleans.
“It’s an intimate film that wants to be close to the bone and wants to be quite personal,” says Neugebauer, who has gained a reputation for the subtlety of her productions, with their ultra-naturalistic flow and seamless ensemble work.
Regarding her transition into film, Neugebauer tells The Hollywood Reporter: “It’s something that I’ve hoped to do and has been in the back of my mind for some time now. I directed my first episode of television last spring, on the Duplass Brothers’ HBO show Room 104. That was a really lovely opportunity to get behind the camera, because the throughline of that anthology show is that they’re all set in the same hotel room, so in a way, they’re sort of all one-act plays. It was a very natural fit.”
Neugebauer’s acclaimed off-Broadway productions have included Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, which was produced in association with Rudin, Annie Baker’s The Antipodes, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Everybody, Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo and Tracy Letts’ Mary Page Marlowe. She made her Broadway debut this season on the Rudin- and Bush-produced revival of Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery, which starred Elaine May, Lucas Hedges, Joan Allen and Michael Cera.
“Scott very wonderfully thought of me for this project, and sent me the script a couple months ago,” continues Neugebauer. “It is a first, but I feel really gratified that I think it’s the right first project for me in the film world. And thus far Jen has been a really astonishing partner as well. It was very clear to me very quickly that we have a deep shared understanding of the project and she’s a really collaborative spirit, so I’m looking forward to having this opportunity to merge minds with her.”
The Lawrence feature marks the second new project announced in the past few weeks from IAC and A24, which teamed previously on Lady Bird, Eighth Grade, Mid90s and Ex Machina.
The companies also are working on a film adaptation of Stephen Karam’s 2016 Tony Award winner for best play, The Humans, which was produced by Rudin on Broadway. Karam will adapt and direct the film, set to star Beanie Feldstein, Richard Jenkins, Amy Schumer, Steven Yeun and Jayne Houdyshell, reprising her Tony-winning role.
Also in the pipeline from Rudin and Bush is Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow; Joel Coen’s Macbeth, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand; and the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems, with Adam Sandler and LaKeith Stanfield, which pundits are eyeing for a fall festival premiere.