EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate will team with Manchester By The Sea distributor Roadside Attractions to co-release Stronger, and they’ve set a September 22 bow. Stronger, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal and is directed by David Gordon Green, is the second movie to cover the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy. Lionsgate also released the other, co-financing and co-producing with CBS Films Patriots Day, in January, after bowing at AFI and platforming for the last Oscar season.
While the Peter Berg-directed Mark Wahlberg-starrer had a procedural storytelling take as law enforcement hunted the bombers, Stronger focuses on the ordeal of Jeff Bauman (Gyllenhaal) and the working-class Bostonian’s struggle to recover after he lost both his legs watching his first Boston Marathon, hoping to glimpse his girlfriend Erin Hurley as she crossed the finish line on Boylston Street. Even though he suffered massive trauma and blood loss in the bombing, Bauman had the wherewithal to help Boston law enforcement identify the killers, one of whom he bumped into just before the terrorist dropped a backpack at the feet of the crowd. Bauman married Erin (played in the film by Tatiana Maslany), and they have a daughter, Nora. The couple last month announced plans to split. They were memorably photographed last year, embracing on Boylston Street after she completed her first Boston Marathon since the tragedy three years earlier.
The film is based on the book Bauman wrote with Bret Witter, and was scripted by John Pollono. Gyllenhaal and his Ninestories produced with Summit, Mandeville and Bold Films. The track record of same-subject movies usually favors the first one out of the gate. Lionsgate and Roadside are still formalizing plans, but Stronger will be a platform prestige release that hopefully will build word of mouth. Having Gyllenhaal so personally vested in Bauman and the subject matter will certainly help.
Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman, Scott Silver and Michel Litvak produced with Gyllenhaal. Riva Marker, Peter McGuigan, Anthony Mattero, Gary Michael Walters, Jeffrey Stoff and Nicolas Stern are the exec producers.