After breaking out with his feature directorial debut Sleight, J.D. Dillard is becoming a hot commodity in Hollywood, with his latest project becoming the center of a heated bidding war.
Lionsgate beat out other competitors for the rights to Mastering Your Past, a thriller that landed Dillard a seven-figure deal to co-write the script with Matt Owens (Luke Cage, The Defenders) and another seven figures to direct. This right off the heels of the rave reviews for his latest Sundance darling, Sweetheart.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Lionsgate won an intense bidding war for Mastering Your Past, the latest project from J.D. Dillard whose films Sleight and the recent Sundance horror hit Sweetheart have pushed him into rising star status. Universal, Paramount, Sony, Amazon, Lionsgate, MRC and Legendary all vied for the project, with Lionsgate coming out on top with a seven-figure deal.
Details are pretty slim for Mastering Your Past, but the thriller reportedly centers on a black woman who enters a relationship with a white man, only to find out that he’s not what he appears. THR reports that the story “contains the twists that Dillard has become known for.”
It sounds like a riff of of Get Out, with the genders reversed, but the mention of the twist is intriguing — I’ve never seen Sleight, but /Film’s own Peter Sciretta raved about the film and its twists and turns when it debuted at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Though Dillard became a breakout filmmaker after Sleight, he still operated on a fairly modest budget with this year’s Sweetheart, but those seven figure paychecks suggest that he could finally be entering the big leagues. Dillard is also set to remake the horror classic The Fly for Fox, but that project has been put on the backburner ahead of the impending Disney-Fox acquisition.
Mastering Your Past will be Dillard’s first project away from Blumhouse, which picked up Sleight after it enchanted audiences at the 2016 Sundance and backed Dillard’s sophomore effort, Sweetheart. The Kiersey Clemons-starring survival horror was a midnight screening at this year’s Park City festival and was one of our most anticipated movies of Sundance.
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