Not since 2019’s crime thriller The Gentleman has Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey gotten a chance to thrill audiences, but it looks like he’s getting closer at finding his next project in a big way. Sources tell Deadline that McConaughey is in negotiations to star in Comet Films and Blumhouse’s The Lost Bus, with Paul Greengrass in negotiations to direct and Apple Original Films in discussions to board the film.
Brad Ingelsby adapted the Lost Bus script from Lizzie Johnson’s book Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire by Lizzie Johnson, about the 2018 Camp Fire that became the deadliest fire in California history.
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The film’s story will be told through the perspective of heroic bus driver Kevin McKay and school teacher Mary Ludwig, who helped navigate a bus full of children through the deadly wildfire as the town of Paradise is caught in the destruction and chaos. The fire destroyed most of the mountain town and killed 85.
Sources stress that deals still need to close and the film is still awaiting a studio greenlight, but insiders say all parties are excited about the film given the talent behind it. The new project will be produced by Jamie Lee Curtis’ Comet Pictures, Jason Blum’s Blumhouse, Ingelsby and Greg Goodman. Johnson and Amy Lord are executive producers.
Curtis has spearheaded the project’s development after hearing the author on NPR, reading the book and bringing the project to Blumhouse, where she has a first-look deal.
While Curtis and Blum have been developing Lost Bus since 2022, the project started to gain momentum when producers got Ingelsby’s script in front of Greengrass in the spring, with the director instantly being drawn to it. Things slowed during the dual Hollywood strikes last year, but once both were settled not only did Greengrass zero in on this as his next film, but McConaughey also took an interest after meeting with producers.
Greengrass did come on to Warner Bros’ adaptation of the bestselling novel Drowning last year, but sources say script work is still being done and the plan is he will shoot The Lost Bus first and then dive in to Drowning once production wraps.
If the greenlight is given, the film would mark multiple reunions for talent and the studio, with Apple recently wrapping production on the Ingelsby-scripted pic Echo Valley starring Julianne Moore and Sydney Sweeney. While this is McConaughey’s first major feature film in some time, he also recently signed on to the Apple TV+ comedy series where he will star alongside Woody Harrelson.
McConaughey is repped by WME and attorneys Kevin Yorn and David Krinzman. Greengrass is repped by CAA. Ingelsby is repped by LBI Entertainment and CAA, and Curtis and Comet Films are repped by CAA.
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