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A Man Called Otto - What We Know So Far

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The 2022 holiday season seems like another big battle for box office dominance. From DreamWorks' "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" to Damien Chazelle's "Babylon" to the long-awaited "Avatar: The Way of Water," there's no shortage of anticipated releases for audiences to soak up while getting festive with friends and families.

Among the less discussed releases slated for that time of the year is Sony Pictures' "A Man Called Otto" starring Tom Hanks. The film is based on best-selling Swedish author Fredrik Backman's 2012 novel, "A Man Called Ove," with the name changed to Otto for the film as a way to reflect its American setting. It will be the second film adaptation of the book following the two-time Oscar-nominated Swedish film directed by Hannes Holm and starring Rolf Lassgård released in 2015 (via IMDb). 

With the New York Times Best Selling novel being called "a fuzzy crowd-pleaser that serves up laughs to accompany a thoughtful reflection on loss and love" by Publishers Weekly and its 2015 film adaptation receiving similar praise, it seems a perfect story to become a potentially wholesome holiday release. But can this American adaptation capture the charm and acclaim of its previous renditions? There is a flurry of questions running through our minds and with more information released on the upcoming film we finally have some answers. Here's everything we know about "A Man Called Otto." 

What is the plot of A Man Called Otto?

The synopsis of the back of the English version of the novel "A Man Called Ove" reads, "Ove's well-ordered, solitary world gets a shake-up one November morning with the appearance of new neighbors — a chatty young couple and their two boisterous daughters — who announce their arrival by accidentally flattening Ove's mailbox with their U-Haul. What follows is a heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unlikely friendships, and a community's unexpected reassessment of the one person they thought they had all figured out." The film appears to be following practically the same story, as its description on IMDb reads, "A cranky retired man strikes up an unlikely friendship with his boisterous new neighbors." 

Regardless of how it differs from its Swedish counterpart, much of the American film's team has expressed great passion for the film's story and what it represents. Producer Rita Wilson told Deadline that she has much admiration for the story, believing that its themes of love, hope, and tolerance are what make up so many classic films. Producer Fredrik Wikström Nicastro added, "I strongly believe that 'A Man Called Ove' is a universal story that resonates strongly with an American and international audience. Making this film with one of the world's best and most acclaimed actors gives 'A Man Called Ove' the best possible opportunity to once again touch the hearts of audiences worldwide." 

Who is starring in A Man Called Otto?

Tom Hanks will be portraying the titular Otto, a grumpy man whose life is thrown into disarray following the death of his wife and being pushed into retirement. He attempts suicide but is constantly interrupted by interactions with his neighbors, who he slowly begins to learn about and bond with. Hanks was attached to the project when it was initially announced in 2017 and acquired by Hanks' and producer Gary Goetzman's production company, Playtone (via Deadline). Hanks, who has had a particularly active year with the biopic "Elvis," Disney's remake of "Pinocchio," and Wes Anderson's "Asteroid City," seems to be a natural choice to play the role. History has shown again and again that the Oscar-winner has more than proven his versatility in playing enduring, heartfelt characters throughout his filmography. 

In January 2022, more of the cast was revealed by Deadline, with Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller, and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo confirmed to be joining the project. In March, actors Mike Birbiglia and Emmy-nominated Cameron Britton of Netflix's "Mindhunter" were also added to the cast of the film (per Deadline). As of now, we have no information on which characters these actors will be portraying. Other cast members listed on the film's IMDb page include Kelly Lamor Wilson, Spenser Granese, Elle Chapman, Josefine Lindegaard, and Kailey Hyman. 

Wha's the release date of A Man Called Otto?

According to Deadline, "A Man Called Otto" is currently set for release on December 14, 2022. Sony originally intended for the film's release to be on Christmas Day alongside the release of their Whitney Houston biopic, "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" (via Variety).

The film will be produced by Tom Hanks' wife, Rita Wilson. It will be helmed by director Marc Forster, best known for his diverse filmography of such titles as "Finding Neverland," "Quantum of Solace," "World War Z," and "Christopher Robin" (per IMDb). "When I first read Fredrik Backman's novel, I fell in love with the notion that friendship has the power to shape a person's life," Forster told Deadline. "I can't wait to create a film with so much humor and heart alongside Tom [Hanks] and Rita [Wilson]." The book was adapted into a screenplay by two-time Oscar-nominee David Magee, who previously collaborated with Forster on "Finding Neverland" and is also known for writing the screenplays for "Life of Pi" and "Mary Poppins Returns."

"A Man Called Otto," while a primarily American production, will be made in part by the Swedish film production company SF Studios. In February 2022, the film's distribution rights were sold to Sony Pictures for $60 million, making it a record European Film Market rights deal. The deal was made largely due to Sony's continued commitment to theatrical releases as opposed to many of its competitors that opted for streaming instead (via Deadline).