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HomeBollywoodBruce Springsteen Movie Starring Jeremy Allen White Lands At 20th Century

Bruce Springsteen Movie Starring Jeremy Allen White Lands At 20th Century


EXCLUSIVE: In a move that points to a change in direction he will take at the helm of Disney live action and 20th Century Studios, former Searchlight co-head David Greenbaum has made his first big statement buy, and it’s set to the music of Bruce Springsteen‘s seminal album Nebraska.

20th Century has closed a deal to finance and release Deliver Me from Nowhere, the narrative film that Scott Cooper is writing to direct with Emmy-winning The Bear star Jeremy Allen White playing The Boss in a pivotal moment in his life. Grappling with personal demons and trying to wrap his arms around becoming a global superstar, Springsteen wrote and recorded Nebraska, the 1982 album that rivals Joni Mitchell’s Blue as one of the most emotionally raw, dark and honest albums in recent music history.

When Deadline revealed that the project was coming together, A24 was expected to be the distributor. But Greenbaum and 20th head Steve Asbell are as big Springsteen fans — they were among a group of the film’s architects at last night’s concert at the Forum in Los Angeles — as anyone at that hip rival distributor. So Greenbaum did what he had to do to win the movie, which will shoot in the fall and get a global theatrical release before it finds its way through Disney’s formidable pipelines.

It was a wild weekend of a bidding battle between the two distributors, we’re told. Greenbaum and co-president Matthew Greenfield’s run at Searchlight included the Oscar-bait films Poor Things, The Banshees of Inisherin and The Shape of Water. Many felt Disney’s live-action division leaned too heavily and too long in mining animated classics and theme park rides for live-action transfers. This likely portends a change in that strategy toward original films.

White completes shooting Season 4 of The Bear in June. He is coming off his first Emmy win for his performance as the burned-out Michelin-star winning chef Carmy, who resurfaces trying to resurrect the Chicago sandwich shop left him by his late brother. This leaves White all summer to get into that Asbury Park mindset with Cooper.

(L-R) Producer David Greenbaum and director Scott Cooper

Getty Images

Scott Stuber, in his first move since exiting as longtime Netflix Film head, is producing with Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-VeinEric Robinson.

It started when Robinson heard Springsteen’s longtime manager Jon Landau compliment the book by Warren Zanes in a Marc Maron podcast. Turned on to that album and Springsteen’s music by his late brother, Robinson reeled in the book, and he and Goldsmith-Vein plugged in Cooper, who adapted the book on spec and then met with Springsteen and Landau.

Nebraska started to take shape as Springsteen and the E Street Band were laying down tracks for his massive hit album Born in the USA.

To many existentially tortured men and women who grew up with difficult parents and depression, Springsteen has been a North Star influence who helped many process the past. The Boss, who in his early performances told highly personal stories of his own early life and struggles, has been prone to his own dark periods. His work as a premier singer, lyricist and melody maker of his era is marked by an upbringing with a father who suffered from depression. Springsteen has also battled his own depression. He was trying to process those feelings in 1982 and poured a lot of that darkness into Nebraska. Springsteen was in the process of recording “Born in the U.S.A.” with the E Street Band, and wrote the songs on “Nebraska” not really intending to turn them into an album for public consumption. He did it with a simple four-track recorder alone in a bedroom in a house he rented in Colts Neck, NJ.

Bruce Springsteen in 1975 in Santa Barbara

Chris Walter/WireImage

To give an idea of where his head was at, the Terrence Malick serial killer film Badlands was a major influence, and Springsteen addressed the subject matter directly in the song “Nebraska.” Other tracks dealing with down on their luck characters making pivotal life decisions including “Atlantic City,” “Highway Patrolman,” “State Trooper.” Each of the nine songs is considered a classic and a definitive statement. This came after the big success of his albums Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River. Nebraska was the follow-up to The River, and then came Born in the USA. Even though that album’s title tune was about a despondent Vietnam vet who lost his brother in combat and felt forgotten and let down by the American government as he dealt with PTSD and unemployment, “Born in the USA” was such a booming anthem that Springsteen’s efforts to shine a light on the hardships facing soldiers who return from the horrors of the battlefield ill-equipped to re-assimilate into society got confused for a long time, especially for pols like Ronald Reagan who tried to co-opt it as a gung-ho pro-American statement.

Springsteen and Landau are actively involved in the film project, which we’ve heard the film will have music from The River, Nebraska and Born in the USA. The Boss has long been involved in writing or lending his songs for movies that spoke to him, and he won the Best Original Song Oscar for “Streets of Philadelphia” in 1994. Springsteen has also made movies about his own specific albums, some of which he has directed with Thom Zimny, but this is new ground for him.

Cooper and Greenbaum have their own history. Greenbaum was co-head of Searchlight when Cooper made Antlers there and he was atop Searchlight when Cooper transitioned from from actor to writer-director. That was for the 2009’s music-themed Crazy Heart, which won Oscars for star Jeff Bridges as well as T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham for their original song “The Weary Kind,” with Maggie Gyllenhaal also getting a nomination.

CAA reps Cooper and Springsteen; WME and Entertainment 360 rep White.



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