Focus Features has picked up Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers, a dramedy that reunites the director with Sideways lead Paul Giamatti.
has confirmed Focus nabbed the worldwide rights to the Miramax pic, excluding the Middle East. The Holdovers project is being shopped at the Toronto Film Festival as part of an informal market and outside the main festival lineup.
The film, written by David Hemingson and set in 1970, sees Giamatti play the role of Paul Hunham, an unlikeable professor who remains at an academy over the Christmas holidays, only to find himself with a trouble-making 15-year-old student.
Sideways, released in 2004, was nominated for five Oscars, which included a win for adapted screenplay for Payne, and brought in $72 million domestically at the box office. The comedy also provided a bump for the wine and tourism trade in Santa Barbara.
Payne also won a best adapted screenplay award for 2011’s The Descendants and directed the Matt Damon-starrer Downsizing. His other screen credits include Citizen Ruth (1996), Election (1999) and About Schmidt (2002).
Giamatti, who was nominated for an Oscar for his work in the 2006 boxing drama Cinderella Man, also starred opposite Kathryn Hahn in Netflix’s Private Life and in the dramas I Think We’re Alone and The Catcher Was a Spy.
The actor, who appeared in Dwayne Johnson’s Jungle Cruise, starred alongside Damian Lewis in the financial drama Billions.
The Wrap was the first to report on the acquisition of The Holdovers.