Ahead of its world premiere next week at the Sundance Film Festival, Lionsgate has acquired North American rights to Don Verdean, the latest comedy from director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite). The film has a solid ensemble cast that includes Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back), Jermaine Clement (HBO’s Flight of the Concords), Amy Ryan (Birdman), Danny McBride (Pineapple Express), and Will Forte (Nebraska). Eleven years ago, it was at Sundance where Hess broke out with Napoleon Dynamite, as the absurdest comedy was picked up by Fox Searchlight Pictures and went on to earn $44 million and become a pop culture fixture.
The latest movie looks to continue Hess’s unique brand of humor, as it revolves around a biblical archeologist named Don Verdean (Rockwell) who is hired by a church pastor to find self-promoting relics in the Holy Land. His expedition doesn’t turn out successful, which leads Don to become creative with his findings, resulting in a comedy about faith and fraud. The film marks the latest collaboration between the husband and wife team of Jared and Jerusha Hess (who wrote the screenplay). The Hesses previously worked together on Napoleon Dynamite, the Jack Black vehicle Nacho Libre, and Gentleman Broncos (which also starred Clement). Jerusha Hess wrote and directed the Keri Russell romantic comedy Austenland on her own and premiered the title at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
There’s no word yet as to when Lionsgate is looking to release Don Verdean theatrically, yet a good indication of the movie’s commercial appeal will come out on January 28th, when the title makes its world premiere in Park City.