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Justin Baldoni to Direct Lionsgate’s Hold Back the Stars

Lionsgate today announced that Justin Baldoni, the director of Five Feet Apart (available at Amazon) from Lionsgate and CBS Films, is set to direct Hold Back the Stars, an adaptation of the young adult novel by Katie Khan.

Baldoni will direct from a screenplay by Christy Hall, and the film will be produced by 21 Laps’ Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen. Baldoni will also produce. The announcement was made today by Erin Westerman, President of Production for the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.

Khan’s Hold Back the Stars focuses on a young man and a woman who revisit memories of their doomed love affair on a utopian Earth while trapped in the vast void of space with only ninety minutes of oxygen left. The book is officially described as follows:

Love is more powerful than gravity. “We’re going to be fine.”

He looks around, but there’s nothing out here: nothing but the bottomless black universe on their left, the Earth suspended in glorious Technicolor to their right.

Trapped in the vast void of space, Carys and Max have only ninety minutes of oxygen left to live. None of this was supposed to happen. After a freak accident, Carys and Max are left adrift in space with nothing to hold onto but each other. As they fall, they can’t help but look back at the world they left behind: a world whose rules they couldn’t submit to, a place where they never really belonged; a home they’re determined to get back to because they’ve come too far to lose each other now. While their air ticks dangerously low, one is offered the chance of salvation—but who will take it?

The film reunites director/producer Justin Baldoni with the studio that distributed Five Feet Apart, which grossed over $91 million worldwide. The project also continues the collaboration between 21 Laps and film and television writer/producer and award-winning playwright Christy Hall, who is the co-creator, writer, and executive producer of Netflix’s new series I Am Not Okay with This, which debuted last week.

Commenting on the announcement, Westerman said, “We’re huge fans of Justin and what he accomplished with Five Feet Apart. He’s incredibly talented at capturing the romance, tragedy and buoyancy of young love. He will further elevate material we are already very excited about!”

Baldoni added, “I’m thrilled to be working with my friends at Lionsgate and 21 Laps on this unique and exceptional story. As a firm believer that love has the power to unify and conquer all, I deeply connected with Hall’s unique take on the ‘star-crossed lovers’ story. With its thrilling action, deep-rooted romance, and powerful message, I couldn’t be more excited to bring this story to life.”

The film will be overseen by Lionsgate’s Meredith Wieck and Scott O’Brien.

Baldoni is in post-production on his next directorial project, Clouds, for Warner Bros. The story is based on the book Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech, about her teenage son Zach, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a year to live.

Zach, whose story was first told on My Last Days, the documentary series Baldoni created and directed, began writing songs and one song, “Clouds,” became the No. 1 song on the iTunes singles chart and the most downloaded song in the world, the same week he passed away from osteosarcoma.

Following the success of Five Feet Apart and furthering his goal to create premium purpose-driven projects with global commercial appeal, Baldoni recently secured a $25 million development and production fund to produce content for his newly established Wayfarer Studios, which also co-produced and co-financed Clouds.

21 LAPS is underway on production on Stranger Things 4. Their latest production, the Netflix series I Am Not Okay with This, co-created by Christy Hall and Jonathan Entwistle (The End of the F***ing World), debuted on February 26. The company is prepping the feature film Sesame Street for Warner Bros., and among their several films in post-production is Levy’s Disney/20th film Free Guy, slated to release on July 3.

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