After the successful release of their Oklahoma-made movie “I Can Only Imagine” in 2018, filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin and their producing partner Kevin Downes created Kingdom Story Company, a multi-platform partnership with Lionsgate whose partners are endeavored to create life-changing content from a variety of talented storytellers. Based on their positive experiences filming in Oklahoma and working with the state’s camera-ready workforce and infrastructure, Kingdom Story returned to Oklahoma late last year where they filmed two back-to-back consecutive feature films, “The Unbreakable Boy” and “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story”, which are estimated to have had an impact of over $20 million in Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma has come through for us in the past,” said producer Kevin Downes in a recent interview with The Oklahoman’s Brandy McDonnell. “[…] our experience here kind of brought us back, to be honest.”
“The Unbreakable Boy” centers around a young boy named Austin, born with a rare, brittle-bone disease and autism, who transforms and unites everyone around him, especially his dad, with his joyous, life-affirming worldview and indestructible spirit. The film is based on the novel “The Unbreakable Boy: A Father’s Fear, a Son’s Courage, and Story of Unconditional Love” by Scott M. LeRette and stars Zachary Levi (“Chuck”, “Shazam!”), Meghann Fahy (“The Bold Type”), Peter Facinelli (“The Twilight Saga”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) and Jacob Laval (“The Plot Against America”). Over the course of its 23-day shoot in Oklahoma, which wrapped on December 18, 2020, “The Unbreakable Boy” created over 150 local jobs with filming occurring in the communities of Oklahoma City, Norman, Midwest City, Okarche, Guthrie, El Reno and Bethany.
After wrapping “The Unbreakable Boy”, Kingdom Story dove straight into production on “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story”, which began filming after the holidays in Oklahoma City on January 25, 2021. Based on the memoir “All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football and the First Miracle Season” by NFL star and Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner, the film found them reteaming with Zachary Levi as the title character and boasts an all-star supporting cast, including Academy Award winner Anna Paquin (“True Blood”, “The Piano”), Academy Award nominee Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”), Golden Globe nominee Dennis Quaid (“The Right Stuff”, “The Rookie”), Chance Kelly (“American Sniper”, “Fringe”) and Ser’Darius Blain (“Jumanji” films). The film, which wrapped 35 days of photography on March 11, 2021, created over 704 local jobs, and filmed throughout central Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City, Edmond, Arcadia, El Reno, Okarche and at sites such as the Jim Norick Arena at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds and the University of Central Oklahoma’s Wantland Stadium.
“Over the course of these three productions, Kingdom Story has helped create over 1,200 local jobs and contribute nearly $26 million in direct impact to Oklahoma’s economy,” said OF+MO Director Tava Maloy Sofsky. “We look forward to furthering our professional relationships with Kingdom Story Company to create future film opportunities for more Oklahomans. The success of these productions would not be possible without the support of our state and city leadership, local workforce, businesses, talent, and community partners.”
For more information on Oklahoma’s film infrastructure, workforce and other resources, visit okfilmmusic.org.
About Oklahoma Film + Music Office
Created in 1979, the Oklahoma Film + Music Office (OF+MO) strives to share all that Oklahoma has to offer by welcoming filmmakers and music professionals to the state and by creating a network of support to develop Oklahoma’s film and music industries. For more information about the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program or the Oklahoma Film + Music Office, visit okfilmmusic.org.