Roadside Attractions has picked up U.S. distribution rights to Roland Emmerich’s latest feature, Stonewall, a dramatization of the Stonewall Riots – an historic trigger of the modern gay rights movement. English actor Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) leads an ensemble that includes Jonathan Rhys Meyer (Match Point), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class), and Joey King (White House Down). The film was written by playwright Jon Robin Baitz, who recently developed the American version of the television mini-series The Slap.
Stonewall focuses on the early days of political activism in the gay rights movement, leading up to the historic Stonewall Riots at the Stonewall Inn watering hole in Greenwich Village in 1969. At the time it wasn’t legal for gays to congregate and police-sanctioned and unprovoked brutality was commonplace. Infamously, a toss of a single brick one particularly tension-filled evening escalated into a full-blown riot and birthed an entire movement. As an entry point into Emmerich’s telling, Irvine portrays Danny Winters, a fictional character who after being thrown out of his home due to his sexuality, comes of age right in the thick of Stonewall.
The film is a noticeable departure from the CGI-heavy theatrics that comprise the bulk of Emmerich’s filmography. The German-born filmmaker previously directed action-heavy blockbusters like Independence Day (1996), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), and 2012 (2009). It seems Emmerich is becoming a director who goes back and forth between big budget tentpole movies and smaller-scale, historically-infused dramas like Stonewall. In 2011 he directed the historical drama Anonymous, about a man who was supposedly responsible for writing Shakespeare’s plays, and next up he’s returning to blockbuster fare with a sequel to Independence Day.
In a comment about the acquisition, Roadside Attractions Co-President Howard Cohen said, “Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall is an explosive, dramatic story set against one of the monumental events of the twentieth century, The Stonewall Riots. Roadside is so proud to bring this stirring film to audiences.” Emmerich, who is openly gay, said, “I was always interested and passionate about telling this important story, but I feel it has never been more timely than right now. I am excited to work with Howard, Eric and the team at Roadside to get this film to audiences across the country.”
Roadside Attractions is planning on releasing Stonewall in theaters this fall. There’s a possibility the film may first start to screen at one of the fall film festivals (Telluride, Toronto, Venice) with the distributor possibly planning an awards run for the title.