Following its enthusiastic reception at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Fox Searchlight Pictures has given Me and Earl and the Dying Girl the plum summer release date, of July 1, 2015. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon – an Emmy-nominated television veteran who has in the past helmed episodes of American Horror Story and Glee – and written by Jesse Andrews (based on his novel), Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was the big hit of Sundance this year, winning both the Grand Jury Prize as well as the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic Feature section of the festival.
The dramatic weeper, described by many critics in Sundance as the indie version of The Fault in Our Stars, stars Thomas Mann (who also was featured in the 2015 Sundance title The Stanford Prison Experiment) and newcomer RJ Cyler as awkward teenagers and budding new filmmakers. Their friendship is put to the test when they befriend a teenage girl afflicted with leukemia. Molly Shannon (Year of the Dog), Connie Britton (This Is Where I Leave You), Nick Offerman (The Kings of Summer), and Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street) co-star. The film seemed to connect not just with Sundance audiences but critics as well. Variety’s Peter Debrudge said of the film, “This rousing adaptation of Jesse Andrews’ novel is destined not only to connect with young audiences in a big way, but to endure as a touchstone for its generation.”
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl also scored a nearly record-breaking acquisition deal, as Fox Searchlight put up $12 million for U.S. distribution rights to the title, winning an intense bidding war. Fox Searchlight – the big Oscar winner two years running now (Birdman, 12 Years a Slave) – might have smelled another potential critical and commercial hit in the making. Its summer release date recalls similar release patterns the mini-major studio used for past Sundance successes like Little Miss Sunshine (released in late July in 2006) and The Way Way Back (released over the July 4th holiday in 2013). It’s worth stating that the big winner of Sundance in 2014 was Whiplash (which won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award), which went on win three Academy Awards and earn a Best Picture nomination.
It’s a tad premature for that kind of talk, but Me and Earl and the Dying Girl appears to be in good hands. Fox Searchlight also picked up two other buzzed-about titles at Sundance this year – the period drama Brooklyn starring Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) and the comedy Mistress America from Noah Baumbach (While We’re Young), starring Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha.)