Netflix has confirmed a $20 million deal for distribution rights to the Theodore Melfi-directed dramedy The Starling. This will see the Hidden Figures filmmaker team up again with his St. Vincent collaborator Melissa McCarthy. Alongside McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Kevin Kline, Timothy Olyphant, Loretta Devine, Skyler Gisondo, Laura Harrier, Rosalind Chao, Kimberly Quinn and Daveed Diggs will star in the film.
The streaming service reportedly paid a large sum for The Starling without even watching a final cut. All Netflix saw the script, helmed by Matt Harris, as well as a four minute highlight reel and was immediately sold, outbidding other major studios like Sony and Lionsgate. CAA Media Finance and UTA Independent negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers with Netflix for The Starling. The movie, which wrapped shooting in September 2019, is currently in postproduction. A release date has not yet been attached.
The Starling follows a married couple that suffers a hardship, leading Jack (O’Dowd) on his own route to deal with his grief while Lilly (McCarthy) remains in the “real” world, struggling with her own guilt. On top of Lilly’s troubles, a starling bird that has nested in her backyard begins to harass and attack her, making her comically obsessed with killing it. Larry (Kline), a quirky but troubled psychologist and veterinarian, helps Lilly through navigating her problems, eventually leading to the two forming an unlikely friendship as they help each other explore, acknowledge and confront their problems.
This is an ambitious project with a large ensemble cast for Netflix. The Starling marks the latest big acquisition for Netflix. The other film most recently picked up was the previously theater-bound comedy The Lovebirds, starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani.
Alongside Melfi and Quinn, Limelight’s Dylan Sellers and Chris Parker produced the movie. Boies Schiller Entertainment’s Zack Schiller and David Boies executive produced, along with Gabby Revilla Lugo, Alex Dong and eOne’s Jen Gorton and Zev Foreman.