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Marc Webb to Direct Westboro Baptist Church Drama From ‘High Fidelity’ Writer

Sony
Sony

Despite helming the disappointing Amazing Spider-Man movies, Marc Webb certainly hasn’t been hurting for work in the short time since. Webb has not one, but two films in theaters this year (Gifted, and the more recent The Only Living Boy in New York), and he’s already eyeing his next project — one that, given the amount of attractive talent (i.e. awards bait) involved, could very well deliver on the promise of Webb’s earlier, pre-Spider-Man career.

Then again, how badly do you want to see a redemptive drama about a former member of the notoriously hateful, racist, and radically bigoted Westboro Baptist Church? According to The Hollywood Reporter, that’s the subject of Webb’s next directorial effort. Titled This Above All, the film centers on the life of Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Westboro founder / evangelical troll Fred Phelps, who preached extreme conservative values and frequently sent members to protest military funerals, politicians, the LGBTQ community, among others.

Phelps-Roper ran the church’s social media accounts, and became one of its most highly-visible and outspoken members, but the more she interacted with people on Twitter, the more she began to question the “values” that had been instilled in her from a young age. Along with her sister, Phelps-Roper left the church and has since been disowned by the Phelps family.

Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, Brooklyn) is scripting the film, which is based on Adrian Chen’s New Yorker article and Phelps-Roper’s own upcoming memoir. And with Reese Witherspoon on board as producer, This Above All definitely has awards season potential — all of which is dependent upon Webb and Hornby’s approach to the material. Given the current political climate (which is sort of an understatement), a movie about a racist, homophobic white woman who finds redemption on Twitter might not be the best narrative choice, regardless of Phelps-Roper’s compelling story.

(What’s the over / under on Melissa Leo joining this movie? That’s pretty much a guarantee, right?)

ScreenCrush’s 2017 Fall Movie Preview

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