Netflix has recently closed a movie deal for quite a large sum of money, $45 million in fact. The deal obtained rights to create a film adaptation of J.D. Vance’s 2016 memoir Hillbilly Elegy. The project’s script will be penned by Vanessa Taylor, co-writer of Divergent and The Shape of Water, and directed by prolific filmmaker Ron Howard (Solo: A Star Wars Story, Apollo 13).
Hillbilly Elegy is the story of Vance’s childhood in Kentucky and the social problems that arise when the family moves to Middletown, Ohio. It has been known for highlighting the “Appalachian values” of his family and others in the region. It has been considered a moving tale of surviving abuse and various other tales that boil from an actual memoir into simple and not subtle political commentary. The book received plenty of backlash for its apparent dramatization and romanticizing of certain groups of people and their manners of life for political means and its somewhat “coincidental” release during the 2016 presidential race in the US when “family ideals” and “laboring rural communities” were the sort of terms being thrown around.
With Ron Howard known for belonging to the party with opposite ideals to this book, it will be interesting to see how the project plays out. Howard will also produce with Imagine Entertainment with the film heading to shoot later this year, once the cast has been set out. The news of Netflix’s new and expensive movie deal was originally reported by Deadline.