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Beyond Birds of Prey: LuckyChap’s Fantabulous Future

Beyond Birds of Prey: LuckyChap’s Fantabulous Future

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For example: A Writers Guild of America report around that time found that men outnumbered women about three-to-one among film writers.

“I knew straight away I wanted to do something to address it,” Hodson said. “And I came up with a loose plan. But I also knew I didn’t want to do it alone.”

The LuckyChap team struck her as “the absolutely perfect partners.”

“So I took them out to a pub, and I pitched it to them, and it was within 30 seconds, they were like, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’”

The result was a female writers’ program between LuckyChap and Hodson’s company, Hodson Exports, called the Lucky Exports Pitch Program. It selected six female writers to spend four weeks working on action-movie scripts. (“None of them are straight action movies,” Hodson explains.)

“What’s been most rewarding is how well the women work together and how well they support each other, and that generosity of spirit between them,” she said. The writers were scheduled to come in three days a week, but they often collaborated on other days, too.

LuckyChap’s goal isn’t just to succeed on its own, but also to lift up other female moviemakers and inspire them to tell their own stories.

“There’s so many actresses I think that are interested in maybe producing or developing their own material, but they don’t have a company or the right people around them at the time to start a company… and in this way I feel like they can dip their toe in the waters with us,” Robbie says. Kerr, whose focus is on finding books, podcasts, and articles to adapt into films, went to the London Book Fair this year in search of potential adaptations. She made clear to the people she met that she wasn’t just looking for Margot Robbie vehicles.

“They’d start pitching me a story and they’d say, ‘This is about a young Bangladeshi girl,’ and they were like, ‘Oh wait, sorry, this is all for Margot.’ And I was like, ‘No, no! Pitch the books about the young Bangladeshi girls!’”

PROMISING

The company has already produced a TV series that doesn’t feature Robbie: the Hulu series Dollface, starring Kat Dennings. And this year’s Sundance film Promising Young Woman is the first LuckyChap film with a woman other than Robbie in the lead.

The film, which has an April release date, seems to track with the company’s past films: The look recalls Terminal, and the tone hints at the grim ironies of I, Tonya.

The trailer opens with a young woman, played by Carey Mulligan, looking barely conscious in a neon-lit bar. “You know, they put themselves in danger, girls like that,” says one young bachelor. Another takes her home, puts her in bed, and jumps on top of her. “What are you doing?” she says absently, as he slides down her body, trying to assure her that everything is okay.

Promising Young Woman Carey Mulligan Emerald Fennell

Carey Mulligan in Emerald Fennell’s Sundance film Promising Young Woman, produced by LuckyChap.

It isn’t. She suddenly comes to life.

“Hey,” she says, snapping him to attention. “I said: What are you doing?

Cue a slow-burn violin version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Then we learn her M.O.: “Every week, I go to a club. I act like I’m too drunk to stand. And ev- ery week, a nice guy comes over to see if I’m okay.”

Questions follow about consent, accountability, and whether these nice guys who offer to take her home are nice at all.

“For us, it’s an interesting message to put out at this time, in terms of the discussions that are happening at the moment,” McNamara says. “How can everyone be held accountable for the system we live in?”

“It’s a movie, not unlike Bombshell, that makes you really second-guess scenarios and situations,” adds Ackerley. “The world is really re-educating

itself so much over the last five years, and I think this is another step in that direction as it re-calibrates and society and norms have been changed.”

The film is written and directed by Emerald Fennell, whose credits include the second season of the feminist spy thriller Killing Eve.

The LuckyChap team met Fennell while pursuing another TV project with her. During that process, she pitched them the opening of Promising Young Woman. They encouraged her to finish the script, then agreed to produce the film, her first.

“If we can be a company that curates new and emerging talent, and can bring them through and provide that platform to do bigger movies and studio movies, that’s ideally what we want to do,” says Ackerley.

Tom Ackerley Margot Robbie LuckyChap

Tom Ackerley. All portraits by John Russo.

Given LuckyChap’s emphasis on supporting other actresses, it seems on-brand that the first Oscar for one of the company’s films went not to Robbie, but to another woman: Allison Janney won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in I, Tonya as Harding’s mother.

“It’s unbelievable how quickly they have progressed as a company and also how good they’ve become at doing the job really well,” says Bryan Unkeless, a producer best known for the Hunger Games films who worked with LuckyChap on I, Tonya, Dollface, and Birds of Prey.

“When I first started working with them on I, Tonya, they were certainly formed, but they hadn’t made their way to Los Angeles and they were still kind of learning the game, reading a lot of scripts, and still piecing together the company. And in that time, which is a pretty short period of time, they’ve all moved to Los Angeles, gotten a first-look deal with Warner Bros., and set up shop in a major way with several employees,” Unkeless continues.

“Everybody around town respects them and loves them and is bringing them a lot of material because they do the job in a really honest and smart and attentive way. It’s been pretty fun to watch, because they’ve done so much in a really short amount of time, but I also know their best days are ahead of them. I think it’s the most exciting company out there right now.”

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