John Erick and Drew Dowdle, aka the Dowdle brothers, have boarded Universal Pictures’ reimagining of “Friday Night Lights.” Both will do a polish on the script, with John Erick directing and Drew exec producing.
Sources tell Variety that the movie is not a sequel to Universal’s 2004 film starring Billy Bob Thornton, nor is it based on NBC’s TV series with Kyle Chandler. Instead, it’s a new property, though still focused on H.G. Bissinger’s non-fiction book about the 1988 Permian High School Panthers as the new Texas football team makes a run toward the state championship.
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The original film, directed by Peter Berg, brought in a modest $61 million at the domestic box office. The property strengthened its fanbase when NBC and Berg turned it into a TV series, which garnered critical acclaim as well as an Emmy win for Chandler during its five-year run.
Since the show ended, Universal has thrown around the idea of returning to the city of Odessa, Texas, considering both a sequel to the Thornton movie and a feature film based on the Chandler character. The studio finally decided to pursue a story with a completely different setting and cast of characters, while still following the world of high school football in Texas and the impact it has on the community.
The most recent version of the script was written by David Gordon Green and Josh Parkinson, with an earlier draft by Robert Schenkkan. Green had been tapped to direct this new film, but his commitments to the “Halloween” franchise, which Universal is also distributing, forced him to step away as director.
Brian Grazer will produce for Imagine Entertainment. Joshuah Bearman and Joshua Davis will executive produce along with Drew Dowdle. Senior VP of production Sara Scott and director of development Lexi Barta will oversee production for Universal. Karen Lunder will oversee for Imagine.
The Dowdle brothers’ most recent project was Paramount Network’s miniseries “Waco,” which they created and executive produced. Other credits include “No Escape,” “As Above So Below” and “Devil.” They are repped by CAA, Novo and Weintraub Tobin.
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