Production has begun on Craig Gillespie‘s Million Dollar Arm. Based on a true story, Jon Hamm plays a washed-up sports agent who travels to India, and sets up a televised, national game show “Million Dollar Arm” to see if any cricket players might cut it in the major leagues. The press release provides the full synopsis, and while it sounds a little corny at points, such as “Ultimately, what began as a purely commercial venture becomes something more and leads JB to find the one thing he was never looking for at all—a family,” I have full faith in screenwriter Tom McCarthy. He’s 3-for-3 with The Station Agent, The Visitor, and Win Win (although he also directed those movies). Also, Hamm is long overdue for the lead role in a feature film. Finally, the flick boasts a terrific supporting cast that includes Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi), Madhurt Mittal (Slumdog Millionaire), Bill Paxton, Lake Bell, Aasif Mandvi, Pitobash, and Alan Arkin.
Hit the jump for the press release and synopsis. Filming is set for India, Georgia, and Los Angeles. Million Dollar Arm will be released in 2014.
DISNEY’S “MILLION DOLLAR ARM” BEGINS PRODUCTION
FILM SHOOTING IN INDIA, GEORGIA AND LOS ANGELES
Burbank, Calif. (May 30, 2013) Principal photography has begun on Walt Disney Pictures’ “Million Dollar Arm,” starring Jon Hamm. Directed by Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl,” “Fright Night”), the film is produced by Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray, through their Mayhem Pictures, and Joe Roth, under his Roth Films banner, with Palak Patel and Kevin Halloran serving as executive producers. Tom McCarthy (“Win Win,” “The Visitor”) wrote the screenplay. The film also stars Bill Paxton (“Haywire,” “Hatfields & McCoys”), Lake Bell (“What Happens in Vegas,” “It’s Complicated”), Suraj Sharma (“Life of Pi”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show,” “Margin Call”), Madhur Mittal (“Slumdog Millionaire”), Pitobash (“Three Idiots,” “Shanghai”) and Academy Award®–winner Alan Arkin. A.R. Rahman (“127 Hours,” “Slumdog Millionaire”) is scoring the film. “Million Dollar Arm” will shoot on locations in India, Georgia and Los Angeles.
Based on a true story, Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” follows JB Bernstein, a once-successful sports agent who now finds himself edged out by bigger, slicker competitors. He and his partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) will have to close their business down for good if JB doesn’t come up with something fast. Late one night, while watching cricket being played in India on TV, JB comes up with an idea so radical it just might work. Why not go to there and find the next baseball pitching sensation? Setting off for Mumbai with nothing but a gifted but cantankerous scout (Alan Arkin) in tow, JB stages a televised, nationwide competition called “Million Dollar Arm” where 40,000 hopefuls compete before two 18-year-old finalists, Rinku and Dinesh (Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal), emerge as winners. JB brings them back to the United States to train with legendary pitching coach Tom House (Bill Paxton). The goal: get the boys signed to a major league team.
Not only is the game itself difficult to master, but life in the U.S. with a committed bachelor makes things even more complicated—for all of them. While Rinku and Dinesh learn the finer points of baseball and American culture, they in turn teach JB the true meaning of teamwork and commitment. Ultimately, what began as a purely commercial venture becomes something more and leads JB to find the one thing he was never looking for at all—a family.
The producing team of Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray, producers of such notable sports movies as “Secretariat,” “Miracle” and “The Rookie,” joins forces with veteran producer Joe Roth (“Oz The Great and Powerful,” “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “Alice in Wonderland”) to bring Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” to the screen.
Director Craig Gillespie gained widespread recognition with the critically acclaimed “Lars and the Real Girl,” starring Oscar®-nominated Ryan Gosling. He also directed “Fright Night,” starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, and Toni Collette. For television, Gillespie produced and directed the highly acclaimed Showtime series “United States of Tara.” His direction of the pilot episode earned Toni Collette both an Emmy® Award and a Golden Globe® Award.
Golden Globe® winner Jon Hamm is perhaps best-known for his nuanced portrayal of high-powered, philandering advertising executive Don Draper on AMC’s award-winning drama series “Mad Men.” His previous film credits include “Friends with Kids,” which he also produced; “Bridesmaids,” “The Town,” “Sucker Punch,” “Howl,” “Shrek Forever After,” as the voice of “Brogan,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “Ira & Abby,” “Kissing Jessica Stein” and “We Were Soldiers.” He recently completed HBO’s “Clear History” with Larry David for director Greg Mottola and the BBC miniseries “A Young Doctor’s Notebook,” opposite Daniel Radcliffe, which he also executive produced.
Alan Arkin, one of the most respected artists of the stage and screen, won an Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the 2006 hit “Little Miss Sunshine.” For his role, Arkin also won an Independent Spirit Award and a BAFTA Award, and shared in a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast, in addition to receiving an individual SAG Award® nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role. Arkin most recently earned Oscar®, BAFTA and Golden Globe® Award nominations for his supporting performance in director Ben Affleck’s Oscar®-winning Best Picture “Argo,” which also won the BAFTA Award for Best Picture.
Talented, multi-faceted actor Bill Paxton has starred in many audience-pleasing hit films, including “Titanic,” “Apollo 13,” “Aliens” “Twister,” “Mighty Joe Young,” “Spy Kids, 2&3” and “Tombstone.” He was recently seen in “The Colony,” “Shanghai Calling” and “Haywire.” On television, Paxton is well known for the series “Big Love,” for which he was Golden Globe® nominated, and recently starred in the award-winning miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys” opposite Kevin Costner.
Lake Bell wrote, produced, starred in and directed her most recent film, “In A World…,” which garnered Bell the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance this year. Bell was also seen at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in the film “Black Rock,” opening in May 2013, directed by Katie Aselton. Other film credits include, among others, “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy,” Paramount’s hit comedy “No Strings Attached,” Nancy Meyer’s “It’s Complicated,” “What Happens in Vegas” and “Pride and Glory.”
Suraj Sharma won acclaim for his portrayal of Pi Patel in Ang Lee’s acclaimed movie “Life of Pi.” With no previous experience, Lee cast Sharma for the role of Pi, following an extensive, months-long search throughout India. For his work in “Life of Pi,” Sharma earned a Critics’ Choice nomination for Best Young Actor, an Empire Award nomination for Best Male Newcomer and won the Sierra Youth in Film Award from the Las Vegas Film Critics as well as the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared as Sh**t Performance, among others.
Aasif Mandvi, well known as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” is an accomplished actor who will next be seen in “The Internship,” starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Recent films include “Premium Rush,” “Ruby Sparks” and “Margin Call.”
Madhur Mittal is best known for his performance as Salim in the acclaimed film “Slumdog Millionaire,” which won the Academy Award® for Best Picture of 2008 and for which he won the Screen Actors Guild Award® for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Pitobash is a Hindi film actor known for his roles in “I Am Kalam,” “Shor in the City” and “Shanghai.” At the age of 12, Pitobash was honored with the “National Balshree Award” from the president of India in the field of creative performance. He later went on to join Bollywood as an actor.
Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” is slated for a 2014 release.