“Lucky,” the film project adapted from Alice Sebold’s 1999 memoir toplined by “You” star Victoria Pedretti, has been abandoned, Variety has learned.
The movie was dropped after losing its financing months ago, according to a source close to the production. Pedretti is also no longer involved.
In “Lucky,” Sebold depicts being viciously beaten and raped by a stranger during her freshman year at Syracuse University in 1981, and explores how this trauma shaped the rest of her life. On Wednesday, a New York Times article detailed how executive producer Timothy Mucciante raised concerns about the events in the book and left the project.
Anthony Broadwater, the man who is portrayed in her novel (under the fictional name of Gregory Madison) and was convicted with first-degree rape and five other charges in this case, was exonerated on Nov. 24 in New York State Supreme Court.
Broadwater spent 16 years in prison and was released in 1998. Since then, he has continued claiming his innocence while facing decades of stigma, isolation and missed job opportunities as a registered sex offender.
Mucciante, who was an executive producer on “Lucky” and was meant to provide the film’s financing via his banner Red Badge Films, played a crucial role in getting Broadwater’s conviction re-examined. Mucciante “began to question the story that the movie was based on earlier this year, after he noticed discrepancies between the memoir and the script,” according to The New York Times.
Mucciante left the project in June and hired a private investigator to examine the evidence against Broadwater. The result of the private investigation was then taken up by Broadwater’s legal team.
Broadwater’s defense lawyers argued that the case had relied solely on a method of microscopic hair analysis that has now been discredited, and on Sebold’s identification of Broadwater in court. Sebold had initially identified a different man as her attacker in a police lineup but later pointed to Broadwater in court after the “prosecutor falsely told Ms. Sebold that Mr. Broadwater and the man next to him were friends who had purposely appeared in the lineup together to trick her,” the New York Times reports.
“I started having some doubts, not about the story that Alice told about her assault, which was tragic, but the second part of her book about the trial, which didn’t hang together,” Mucciante told the Times.
Sebold has not commented on the overturned conviction but ignored questions from a Daily Mail journalist near her San Francisco home, as seen in photos and a video released by the U.K. publication. “Lucky,” which sold over 1 million copies, kicked off her career as an author. She went on to write the 2002 novel “The Lovely Bones,” which sold 10 million copies and was adapted into Peter Jackson’s Oscar-nominated film of the same name.
Karen Moncreiff (“13 Reasons Why”) was set to write and direct “Lucky,” with James Brown (“Still Alice”) producing. Jonathan Bronfman of JoBro Productions was executive producer on the film, but Variety has confirmed that he is no longer attached to the project.
Variety has reached out to Brown and Sebold’s literary agent for comment. Mucciante had no further comment.
Pat Saperstein and Angelique Jackson contributed to this story.