After shooting Spenser Confidential for Netflix, Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg took a brief detour away from the action genre to make Good Joe Bell, a film inspired by the true story of a man who walked across the country to crusade against bullying. The movie played on the film festival circuit and received middling reviews (including from us at /Film), but Solstice Studios has since re-edited it, given it the new title of simply Joe Bell, and will be releasing it in theaters in February 2021, in time to compete in this very strange awards season.
Solstice Studios, the company that released the Russell Crowe action film Unhinged earlier this year, acquired Good Joe Bell at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and have since renamed and recut the movie in preparation for an upcoming theatrical release. Here is the official synopsis:
With a timely message about tolerance, unity and embracing our differences, Joe Bell is based on the powerful true story of a small town, working class father (Wahlberg) who embarks on a solo walk across the United States to crusade against bullying after his gay teenage son, Jadin (Reid Miller) is tormented in high school. Joe makes his way along the breathtaking expanse heading from Oregon to New York City, delivering a simple message of tolerance from a father’s perspective, hoping to reach those who may be open to hearing it from someone like themselves. Confronting many hardships, Joe ultimately shows us all that you can make a difference if you just take it one step at a time.
Connie Britton and Gary Sinise co-star, and the film is written by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, the Academy Award winning writing team from Brokeback Mountain. (McMurtry is also the novelist behind the terrific western Lonesome Dove, which was turned into an acclaimed miniseries starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones which everyone should watch.) Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, No Time to Die) was once lined up to direct this, but he ultimately ended up taking a producer role; the film was directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men and the forthcoming King Richard).
Mark Gill, the president of Solstice Studios, says the film “has now reached its full potential” after their revision, and they’re really hoping to take advantage of its awards potential: they’ve hired Oscar powerhouse Diane Warren to write a new original end title song, so expect a perfunctory nomination for that, if nothing else.
The new cut of Joe Bell will arrive in theaters on February 19, 2021.
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