Laurence Fishburne (John Wick: Chapter 4) and Clifton Collins Jr. (Nightmare Alley) have signed on to star in the upcoming film Frank & Louis, which Petra Volpe is directing for Participant, Zodiac Pictures and Tyler Perry’s Peachtree & Vine Productions.
In Frank & Louis, a man serving a life sentence (Collins) takes an in-prison job caring for aging and infirm prisoners suffering from memory loss diseases—including one played by Fishburne. What starts as a self-serving mission for parole turns into a deep emotional and transformative relationship, offering a glimmer of redemption in an otherwise unforgiving place.
Volpe and Esther Bernstorff wrote the script. Participant will produce alongside Reto Schaerli and Lukas Hobi of Zodiac Pictures, and Perry and Tim Palen of Peachtree & Vine. Cora Olson is co-producing, with Jeff Skoll and Anikah McLaren of Participant serving as exec producers. McLaren, Elizabeth Haggard and Connor DeSha will oversee the project for Participant.
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“To work with Laurence Fishburne and Clifton Collins, Jr. on this intimate and emotional story is an absolute dream come true,” said Volpe. “I feel a deep gratitude towards the incarcerated men I met while researching this project, and I can’t wait to bring this touching and timely story to audiences. Hopefully this film will contribute to an important conversation about aging, mental health and the prison system.”
“It is amazing to see this project grow,” said Participant CEO, David Linde. “Tyler Perry joining this incredible team, combining with Petra, Clifton and Laurence, brings such a uniquely creative dynamic to a powerful story that showcases how shared compassion makes for a unifying, exhilarating experience.”
“I have long been a fan of Participant, and the company’s commitment to storytelling that inspires social change,” added Perry. “As an advocate for prison reform, the story of Frank & Louis and its powerful themes resonated with me, and I’m excited to be part of the creative team bringing this story to life.”
Fishburne earned an Oscar nomination in 1994 for his turn as Ike Turner in Brian Gibson’s drama, What’s Love Got to Do with It. Over the course of his career, he’s also been honored with three Primetime Emmys and a Tony, among other accolades. He’s best known for his role as Morpheus in The Matrix franchise, and as the John Wick franchise’s Bowery King. He’ll soon reprise that role for John Wick: Chapter 4, with additional films on the way including Tony Kaye’s drama Black Water Transit, Paul Feig’s The School for Good and Evil, Mikael Håfström’s Slingshot, Rob Edwards’ Sneaks and Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis. Fishburne’s last collaboration with Participant came as part of the cast of its 2011 thriller Contagion from director Steven Soderbergh, which grossed $136 million worldwide.
Collins is an Emmy and Independent Spirit Award nominee whose recent film credits include Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, Kogonada’s After Yang, Clint Bentley’s Jockey and Tate Taylor’s Breaking News in Yuba County. The actor has also been seen on series including The Stand, Westworld, Veronica Mars, Ballers and Thief, among others. He’ll next be seen in Renny Harlin’s action-thriller The Bricklayer, Cory Finley’s sci-fi pic Landscape with Invisible Hand and Shaun Hart’s crime film, Riptide.
Volpe is a Swiss-Italian writer-director whose film The Divine Order won three awards at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, subsequently being named as the Swiss Academy Award entry for 2018. Her debut film, Dreamland, was nominated for four Swiss Film Awards, with her screenplay, Heidi, going on to become Switzerland’s most internationally successful film of all time.
Bernstorff is a German writer of film and television whose drama 4 Könige was nominated for the German Film Award for Best Screenplay in 2016. The following year, she took home the German Television Academy Award in the same category.
Founded by Chairman Skoll and under the leadership of CEO Linde, Participant is a media company dedicated to entertainment that stands at the intersection of art and activism. Its more than 100 films have collectively earned 85 Academy Award nominations and 21 wins, including Best Picture for Spotlight and Green Book; Best Documentary Feature for An Inconvenient Truth, Citizenfour, The Cove and American Factory; and Best Foreign Language Film for Roma and A Fantastic Woman. Participant also has earned 44 Emmy nominations and 11 wins, including two wins for Netflix’s When They See Us.
Schaerli and Hobi head up Zodiac Pictures—an independent production company headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, which has produced more than 30 films and series, including Ready, Steady, Charlie!, Heidi, Labyrinth of Peace and New Heights.
Peachtree & Vine is a joint venture production company created by Perry and Palen to produce film, television and digital content in both the scripted and unscripted spaces. The company previously announced a Madea origin story being developed at Showtime titled Mabel and is in pre-production on a thriller with Blumhouse Studios titled Help.
Fishburne is represented by CAA, Landmark Artists Management and Del Shaw Moonves; Collins by CAA, Mgmt Entertainment and Yorn, Levine, Barnes; Volpe by WME and Mgmt Entertainment; and Bernstorff by Verlag der Autoren.
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