Collateral Beauty will be the third film from director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, whose Sundance hit, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, made waves (critically speaking) when it opened in theaters earlier this summer. The director's new film centers around a New York advertising executive who suffers a personal tragedy, only for his colleagues to try and break him out of his subsequent depression (in a less-than-conventional manner).
Gomez-Rejon's New York story was previously set to pair Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara opposite one another, as the film's leads. However, it appears that Hugh Jackman has been forced to bow out from the project (presumably due to a scheduling conflict), though his replacement will ensure the dramatic film retains its previous level of star power.
According to THR, Jackman has been replaced in Collateral Beauty by Will Smith (represented by CAA), who has just closed a deal with The PalmStar Media and Likely Story production companies (the former in charge of financing the entire production). Mara is still set to star opposite Smith's advertising executive, with a script written by Allan Loeb (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Rock of Ages).
Collateral Beauty is set to be produced by Anonymous Content's Michael Sugar and Brad Dorros (along with Loeb), and PalmStar CEO Kevin Frakes will executive produce with Likely Story's Anthony Bregman and Steven Pearl. Smith's production company, Overbrook, is coming in to co-produce, with principal photography scheduled to start this fall, indicating the movie should reach theaters sometime in 2016.
Collateral Damage should also prove to be a change of pace from Smith's more action-heavy turn in David Ayers' forthcoming DC Comics adaptation, Suicide Squad. Nowadays, the actor tends to balance his tentpole efforts with more character-driven feature films (like Focus, which he co-headlined earlier in 2015). The same is true for Mara, who is coming off Joe Wright's big-budget Pan ahead of the more intimate drama that Collateral Beauty sounds like it will be.
With Smith and Mara signed on for the project, Gomez-Rejon should be drawing from a larger budget on Collateral Beauty compared to his previous independent-scale work (in terms of both financial and thematic scope), Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and The Town That Dreaded Sundown. Many cinephiles will no doubt be interested in seeing how Gomez-Rejon handles the transition, given the promise many felt he has shown with his indie breakout directorial efforts.
Collateral Beauty is expected to arrive in 2016; we'll keep you posted on an official release date.