Paramount Pictures has stepped up to bat for That’s What I’m Talking About, a collegiate baseball drama from writer/director Richard Linklater. The studio will distribute the film in North America, while Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures will handle international rights. This fast-moving project is heading into to production shortly and marks Linklater’s follow-up to his acclaimed twelve-years-in-the-making (and potentially Oscar-bound) art house hit Boyhood.
The film appears to be coming together quickly. Linklater has already tapped Blake Jenner (Glee) to star as a college freshman, focusing on his experiences as a pitcher on his school’s nationally ranked baseball team along with his hard-partying teammates. That’s What I’m Talking About will take place in 1980 and observe the team on and off the field. Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf), Ryan Guzman (Step Up All In), Russell Wyatt (22 Jump Street), and Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy) round out the young cast. The film appears akin in spirit to Linklater’s classic Dazed and Confused, his immortal 1993 slacker dramedy about the last day of class at a Texas high school in 1976. That film provided breakout roles for eventual household names like Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, and Matthew McConaughey. A lifelong baseball fan, Linklater directed the 2005 remake of the 70s baseball classic The Bad News Bears with Billy Bob Thornton, also distributed by Paramount.
This time out Linklater will write, direct, and produce with backing from Ellison and her filmmaker-friendly Annapurna Pictures, which has been involved in several projects from high-profile directors in recent years, including Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, Spike Jonze’s Her, David O. Russell’s American Hustle, and the upcoming Foxcatcher from Bennett Miller. That’s What I’m Talking About will be the fourth film Linklater has directed in as many years (Bernie, Before Midnight, Boyhood), marking a prolific period in the filmmaker’s career (one made even more impressive by Boyhood‘s twelve year commitment). He was attached earlier this summer to effects-filled The Incredible Mr. Limpet, but it appears that project has been abandoned for now.
Yet before That’s What I’m Talking About heads into theaters, the next step for Linklater may be tackling the upcoming awards season for his indie hit Boyhood. Since opening to rave reviews at Sundance in January, the drama starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, and Ethan Hawke has become one of the most critically lauded titles of the year and a hit with audiences. It has made over $20 million since opening last July, a considerable feat considering its experimental nature and nearly three-hour running time. Linklater previously earned Oscar nominations for co-writing both Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013) alongside Hawke and Julie Delpy.