Synopses for Meg Ryan’s Directorial Debut ITHACA and the Thriller THE FREE WORLD Starring Cillian Murphy and Bryce Dallas Howard

     January 29, 2014


Sales are starting to go down because of the Berlin Film Festival, so be prepared for on onslaught of press releases.  For the most part, these press releases are boilerplate about how happy everyone is to be working with each other, acquiring projects, etc.  However, these press releases also tend to include the first synopsis for the film in question.  Today, The Exchange announced they had acquired Meg Ryan‘s directorial debut, Ithaca, which will star Ryan, Sam Shepard, Melanie Griffith, and Jack Quaid, with more casting to be announced as the summer start date approaches.

There’s also a release for Jason Lew‘s thriller, The Free WorldCillian Murphy stars as a recently released convict whose freedom is put in jeopardy when he meets a tragic, mysterious woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) with a violent past.  Hit the jump for the press releases.

meg-ryanI’ve put the synopses in bold.


January 29, 2014 – Brian O’Shea, CEO of The Exchange, announced today the acquisition of worldwide sales rights to ITHACA, written by Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers). The Exchange will begin selling the title to buyers at the upcoming European Film Market’14 in Berlin.

Adapted from William Saroyan’s novel, The Human Comedy, the film marks the directorial debut of Meg Ryan (Sleepless In Seattle, When Harry Met Sally). It will be executive produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman of Play Tone, and produced by Janet Brenner (The Last Five Years), Laura Ivey (The Last Five Years, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt), Ryan and Jendresen.

Set in a small town in California’s San Joaquin Valley, ITHACA tells the story of 14-year-old Homer Macauley who is determined to be the best and fastest bicycle telegraph messenger anyone has ever seen. His older brother has gone to war, leaving Homer to look after his widowed mother, his older sister and his 4-year-old brother, Ulysses. And so it is that as spring turns to summer, 1942, Homer Macauley delivers messages of love, hope, pain and death to the good people of Ithaca. And Homer Macauley will grapple with one message that will change him forever – from a boy into a man.

With production set to begin this summer, the all-star ensemble cast includes Ryan, Sam Shepard (August: Osage County, Mud), Melanie Griffith (Working Girl), and Jack Quaid (Hunger Games). More cast will be added as production approaches.

“ITHACA is a story all can relate to: a quintessential coming-of-age story,” says O’Shea. “The Exchange is excited to watch Saroyan’s words burst with the kind of joy and energy certain to light up the big screen.”

“ITHACA is a deceptively simple story, by turns stark and lyrical.  It’s sometimes shockingly unsentimental and yet, by some little miracle, never cynical.  I am delighted to no end to bring a tale of such vibrancy and heart to the screen” Meg Ryan said.

The Exchange recently announced international sales rights to the Sundance Film Festival’14 breakout hit OBVIOUS CHILD. Also in Park City, The Exchange premiered Jake Paltrow’s post apocalyptic film YOUNG ONES.



Thriller to Star Cillian Murphy and Bryce Dallas Howard

bryce-dallas-howardLOS ANGELES, CA (January 29, 2014)—Memento Films International has picked-up international rights to scribe Jason Lew’s directorial debut THE FREE WORLD. BAFTA and Golden Globe nominee Cillian Murphy (INCEPTION; upcoming TRANSCENDENCE; as well as Ron Howard’s HEART OF THE SEA),  joins Golden Globe nominee Bryce Dallas Howard (THE HELP, and soon to be seen in JURASSIC WORLD) to top line the film.  Lew previously wrote Gus Van Sant’s RESTLESS which opened the 2011 Festival de Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.

Untitled Entertainment’s Laura Rister will produce the project.  She has produced and executive produced a number of notable independent films, including ALL IS LOST starring Robert Redford and which is currently in release; LOVELACE, THE ICEMAN, MARGIN CALL and LAWLESS.  Rister is currently in post-production on director Matt Shakman’s feature debut CUT BANK starring John Malkovich, Liam Hemsworth, and Bruce Dern.

Emilie Georges and Nicholas Shumaker will executive produce for MFI.

THE FREE WORLD is the story of Mohamed “Mo” Lundy (Murphy), a man attempting to adjust to civilian life after a brutal 20-year stretch in prison for crimes he did not commit.   His world collides with Doris Lamb (Howard), a tragic and mysterious woman with a violent past, for whom he will come to risk everything, including his new found freedom.

The film is scheduled to commence principal photography in the fall.

“We’re excited for Jason to join MFI’s well curated line-up,” said Georges and Shumaker. “He is an incredible storyteller and we look forward to bringing this unique project to global audiences.”

“The script caught us completely off guard.  It is a bold, original, and deeply heartfelt look into readjusting in society. Laura’s eye at finding new talent is amazing and we’re sure that Jason’s film will be a great addition to our slate of ambitious titles from talented American directors,” added Tanja Meissner, Head of International Sales and Acquisitions.

Georges and Shumaker negotiated the deal for MFI, with Rister and WME Global representing the film.  Murphy is repped by CAA, Lou Coulson Associates and The Lisa Richards Agency.  Howard is repped by Management 360 and ICM.
WME Global will sell US rights.

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