In a deal sources place at $25M+ for worldwide rights, Searchlight Pictures has acquired Annapurna’s darkly comic neo-horror film Nightbitch, starring six-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams (Arrival), acquired in a competitive sale. Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) has come aboard to direct the film, based on Rachel Yoder’s acclaimed debut novel, from her own script.
Nightbitch tells the story of a woman thrown into the stay-at-home routine of raising a toddler in the suburbs, who slowly embraces the feral power deeply rooted in motherhood, as she becomes increasingly aware of the bizarre and undeniable signs that she may be turning into a canine. Bond Group and Annapurna acquired film rights to Yoder’s book back in 2020 and developed the script alongside Heller. It marks a reemergence of Megan Ellison’s reconfigured Annapurna in the marketplace. The original plan was to launch sales in Cannes, but Searchlight has been all over it since Berlin. There were five offers but Searchlight won the day.
Adams and Stacy O’Neil (Dead Ringers) will produce via their Bond Group banner, alongside Heller for Defiant By Nature, Archer Gray’s Anne Carey (20th Century Women), Annapurna’s Megan Ellison (Booksmart), Christina Oh (Minari) and Adam Paulsen (Pig), and Sue Naegle (Shirley), with Annapurna’s Sammy Scher and Defiant By Nature’s Havilah Brewster serving as exec producers. Searchlight Production Heads DanTram Nguyen and Katie Goodson-Thomas will oversee the film along with SVP, Production Taylor Friedman and Manager, Creative Affairs Cameron Chidsey.
Nightbitch reunites Carey with Heller on the heels of their work together on the acclaimed features Can You Ever Forgive Me? and The Diary of a Teenage Girl for Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics, respectively. The film will stream on Disney’s DTC platforms as a Hulu Original in the U.S., with additional release plans to be announced at a later date. Production kicks off in Los Angeles in September.
“We are long-time admirers of Amy Adams, and we are thrilled to join with Annapurna and this incredibly creative team of filmmakers to bring this unique story to the screen,” said Searchlight Presidents David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield. “We’re also delighted to reunite with Mari Heller and Anne Carey again following the collaboration on Can You Ever Forgive Me? Mari has brilliantly adapted Rachel Yoder’s stunning debut for what promises to be a provocative film.”
“Rachel Yoder’s book took my breath away. I haven’t felt this way about [a] book since I read The Diary of a Teenage Girl many years ago,” added Heller. “Rachel’s darkly hilarious tale of motherhood and rage made me feel seen. And adapting it with Amy Adams in mind has been the thing that has kept me going through the pandemic. I am so thrilled to be bringing this movie to life with wonderful partners in Anne Carey, Annapurna Pictures, and Searchlight. It is a dream come true.”
Heller recently directed the Oscar-nominated and critically acclaimed drama Mr. Rogers drama A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks, who notched an Academy Award nomination for his performance. She previously worked with Searchlight Pictures as the director of the letter forgery dramedy Can You Ever Forgive Me?, starring Academy Award nominated actors Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. Her directing credits also include SPC’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl, which earned her an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature as well as a DGA nomination for First Time Feature Film.
Adams landed her Oscar noms for her turns in the films Vice, American Hustle, The Master, The Fighter, Doubt and Junebug. She’ll next be seen in Disenchanted, Disney’s follow-up to its smash hit musical, Enchanted.
Searchlight Pictures is a global specialty film company owned by Disney which has recently released titles including Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award-nominated Nightmare Alley, which garnered Searchlight’s 20th Best Picture Oscar Nomination; Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Oscar-winning feature documentary Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) with Hulu and in partnership with Disney’s Onyx Collective; the Hulu Original Limited Series The Dropout from Michael Showalter; and Mimi Cave’s cannibal pic, Fresh. Upcoming releases include Andrew Ahn’s Fire Island; Sophie Hyde’s Good Luck to You, Leo Grande; Quinn Shephard’s Not Okay; Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin; Mark Mylod’s The Menu; Tom George’s See How They Run; and Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light.
Searchlight’s Head of Business Affairs, Paul Hoffman, negotiated the deal for Nightbitch with Annapurna Pictures and FilmNation Entertainment. Heller is represented by UTA and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole; Adams by WME, Linden Entertainment and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.