Kentucky

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ film is on its way, and this streaming service will have it

Director Ron Howard plans to direct a $45 million adaptation of J.D. Vance’s best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.”
Director Ron Howard plans to direct a $45 million adaptation of J.D. Vance’s best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.” Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Netflix is the winning bidder in an auction for the film version of J.D. Vance’s best selling controversial memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.”

The book, which has drawn both praise and harsh criticism for its portrayal of Appalachians living in poverty, is being adapted by The Shape of Water co-writer Vanessa Taylor and directed by Ron Howard.

Howard is also producing with his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer and the company’s Karen Lunder.

Howard won an Oscar for directing “A Beautiful Mind,” and has also directed “The Da Vinci Code,” “Apollo 13,” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

Deadline Hollywood was the first to report the acquisition saying that Netflix will finance the $45 million movie. As of the end of 2018, Netflix has about 148 million streaming subscribers worldwide, 60.55 million in the United States, according to Statista.com

The movie is expected to be shot later in 2019, according to Deadline Hollywood, but the cast has not been set.

“Hillbilly Elegy” is Vance’s personal story about raising himself from an impoverished family with little formal education to become a Yale Law School graduate and political pundit. Vance has been nationally influential in his interpretation of voting trends among those with little education and few job prospects.

Vance’s family is from Breathitt County but migrated to Ohio for Armco Steel, which was giving manufacturing workers the means to move up to the middle class. But when the jobs dried up, communities collapsed and workers were left adrift.

Vance has been roundly criticized by those who have accused him of taking a broad swipe at Appalachian culture and problems that have gone on for generations. because of exploitation by outside forces.

Elizabeth Catte’s book, “What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia,” served as a rebuttal to Vance’s work.

Barbara Kingsolver, who grew up in Kentucky and has written books such as “Animal Vegetable Miracle,” told the New York Times that she didn’t even finish Vance’s book.

“This region has been savaged by one extractive industry after another, and still its landscape and people impress me every day. We’re not one psyche, one color, one culture, not all J.D. Vance’s cousins, and certainly not without hope, but the rest of America seems keen to reduce us to a pitiable monoculture.”

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