The last Melissa McCarthy movie I saw, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, floored me. McCarthy gives an atypically quiet, serious, angry, and vulnerable performance in the subdued drama, one that earned rightfully her an Oscar nomination. An upcoming McCarthy vehicle, The Starling, sounds like it might recapture that dramatic, nuanced magic that she’s capable of — and Netflix just spent a pretty penny to ensure we’ll all be streaming it soon.
Per Deadline, the streaming service paid around $20 million for distribution rights for the film — and they didn’t even watch a final cut. All Netflix saw was a script, written by Matt Harris, and a four-minute sizzle reel helmed by director Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures, McCarthy’s St. Vincent), and they felt so strong about the project’s future that they outbid other studios like Lionsgate and Sony. The film wrapped shooting in September 2019 — given how starved most studios will be for content in our coronavirus pandemic times, I’m betting Netflix paid for the privilege of having one of much fewer Oscar-ready prestige pictures. While no release date is currently set, I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix pushes Melfi to finish a final cut in time to release by the end of 2020.
The Starling is a surreal dramedy about a couple (McCarthy and Bridesmaids co-star Chris O’Dowd) who suffers an unspeakable tragedy. While O’Dowd leaves their home temporarily to deal with his grief, McCarthy stays behind and tends to their garden. And then, a giant bird — a black starling — begins to attack McCarthy and demolish her gardening efforts. To determine the source of this strange bird, how to humanely stop it, and what it all might mean, she enlists the services of psychiatrist-turned-veterinarian Kevin Kline, who has some demons of his own. Other cast members include Timothy Olyphant, Skyler Gisondo, Rosalind Chao, Kimberly Quinn, Daveed Diggs, Laura Harrier, and Loretta Devine. It sounds a little like a Charlie Kaufman take on a Welcome to Marwen, and I’m excited to see McCarthy sink her teeth into the role.
We’ll keep you updated once Netflix announces more about the release of The Starling, a release they paid quite a bit for.