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The story of FLEX and MUSCLE & FITNESS founder, Joe Weider, has been the stuff of legend. His contributions to the world go well beyond the creation of a publishing and nutrition empire, they extend to nearly every corner of our physical culture. The story is so remarkable that Hollywood has come calling. Filming has begun on BIGGER, the story of Joe Weider and his crusade to change the world. According to various industry insiders, this is the first-ever mainstream, scripted, theatrical feature film about the bodybuilding world.
FLEX caught up with the film’s Co-Executive Producer Dan Solomon, the man who brought the key players together for the biggest budgeted production in the history of bodybuilding. Solomon, who recently hosted the Amazon.com Olympia Weekend webcast, took a break from his busy schedule to fill us in on the movie and how it all came together.
FLEX: You managed to keep a lot of this a secret for a while. How did it all come together?
DAN: It started with a conversation I had with my longtime Hollywood Producer friend Steve Jones. I’ve known Steve since my days in television. He’s gone on to do some big things in Hollywood, including a film he produced starring Al Pacino about the life of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. The movie, You Don’t Know Jack, won a boat load of awards and Pacino won the Golden Globe for Best Actor. Fast forward a couple years later. When Joe Weider died, Steve read about it in the L.A. Times and called me. We talked about the extraordinary life Joe lived and we started discussing what a great movie it would be. My first move was to call Eric Weider and convince him to meet with Steve. After some arm-twisting, Eric agreed to meet and the rest is history. None of this would be possible without Eric’s support and Steve’s energy. Credit is also owed to Mike Steere who wrote the Brothers of Iron book, serving as a valuable resource to the talented writers who came together to do the screenplay.
FLEX: What’s the focus of the movie?
DAN: This isn’t your basic Joe meets Arnold story. This goes far deeper, dating back to Joe’s early years in Montreal during the 1930’s and 40’s. It’s the story of a visionary and his brother as they dealt with anti-semetism, public skepticism, a failed marriage, strained relations with family, and countless other obstacles during a time when muscle was often frowned upon. George Gallo, the director, is committed to creating something special – a story that will appeal to movie goers in general, not just people who lift weights.
FLEX: Is the story completely factual or is it coated with Hollywood “pixie dust”?
DAN: Good question. Let’s just say that the writers went to great lengths to capture the essence and authenticity of the story. But make no mistake about it, the film does have its Hollywood moments. When making a movie of this scale, there’s always unavoidable creative license. The hardcore bodybuilding historians may bark at a few things, but theatergoers will learn a lot about Joe and Ben’s crusade and they’ll be entertained in the process. No different than any successful biopic.
FLEX: When will the movie be in theaters?
DAN: Can’t say yet. Filming has just begun. The focus now is to finish the six-week shoot on time. We’ll be in post-production over the holidays and we should have some timeline announcements in the first quarter. I’ll be sure to keep FLEX in the loop.
FLEX: Tell us about the cast. Some of the rumored names are really impressive!
DAN: Once word of the movie made its way around Hollywood, we were amazed by how many talented actors wanted to be in the film. Tyler Hoechlin is playing Joe. He’s fantastic. A lot of you will remember him from his role opposite Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition. The younger crowd knows him as Superman in the popular Supergirl series. Julianne Hough scored big when she landed the role with Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages. She’s stepping away from Dancing with the Stars to play Betty Weider in the film. The legendary Robert Forster is also in the movie, along with Tom Arnold, Aneurin Barnard, Victoria Justice, Kevin Durand, Colton Haynes, DJ Qualls, Max Martini, and a few bodybuilding industry celebs that we’ll be announcing soon.
FLEX: The bodybuilding world has been trying to gain mainstream acceptance for a long time. This movie is a big milestone! How were you guys able to pull this off?
DAN: First and foremost, credit goes to Eric Weider for blessing the project and to Steve Jones for never taking no for an answer. He’s relentless! But generally speaking, the timing is perfect for this. The sports and entertainment industries are loaded with muscle. Arnold did his part and others have followed. We just had Dwayne Johnson as a production partner at the Olympia. It’s an exciting time in the world of strength and physique transformation. It’s time for the world to truly understand the gravity of what the Weider brothers created. Their story needs to be told.
For inquiries about the film contact Bigger@DigitalMuscle.com