‘The Hating Game,’ Starring ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Actor Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell, Picked Up by Vertical for North America (EXCLUSIVE)

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Vertical Entertainment has signed a deal with Mister Smith Entertainment for North American distribution rights to romantic comedy “The Hating Game,” which stars “Pretty Little Liars” actor Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell, who also appeared with her in “Fantasy Island.” Vertical is planning to give it a theatrical release later this year.

“The Hating Game,” which is based on the hit novel by Sally Thorne, tells the story of kind-hearted Lucy Hutton (Hale) and her cold, efficient nemesis Joshua Templeton (Stowell). Resolving to achieve professional success without compromising her ethics, Lucy embarks on a ruthless game of one-upmanship against Josh, a rivalry that is impossibly complicated by her growing attraction to him.

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Peter Hutchings (“Then Came You”) directed Christina Mengert’s adaptation of the book.

“The Hating Game” novel was a 2018 USA Today Bestseller and was published in more than 20 countries. It is often identified as one of the key originators of the recent rom-com boom. It ranks seventh in Oprah Magazine’s 20 Best Romance Novels of All-Time.

Claude Dal Farra, Brice Dal Farra and Brian Keady of BCDF Pictures produced along with Convergent Media’s Santosh Govindaraja and Dan Reardon, which is also financing. David Garrett’s Mister Smith Entertainment is handling worldwide sales and also co-financing the film.

The movie is in post-production having wrapped principal photography on Dec. 23 in upstate New York.

As well as “Pretty Little Liars,” Hale is known for the shows “Katy Keene,” “Life Sentence” and “Privileged.” Her film work includes starring roles in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” “Truth or Dare,” “Scream 4” and “Fantasy Island.” She is currently shooting AMC’s crime series “Ragdoll” from Sid Gentle Films, the British production company behind “Killing Eve.”

Stowell starred in the critically acclaimed 2019 independent feature “Swallow,” opposite Haley Bennett, the film “Stratton,” opposite Dominic West and Gemma Chan, as well as Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” anthology TV series. He previously starred in the film “Fantasy Island” and the mini-series “Catch 22.” His film credits include “Whiplash,” “Bridge of Spies,” “12 Strong,” “Battle of the Sexes,” “Colossal,” and “Dolphin Tale” 1 & 2. His upcoming films include “The Long Home,” based on the acclaimed novel.

Vertical partner Peter Jarowey stated: “We’re excited to be partnering with BCDF Pictures once again to bring this funny and relatable romantic comedy to audiences later this year.”

Mister Smith’s David Garrett commented: “We are absolutely delighted to have found a home in Vertical for this much sought-after romcom. They are the perfect fit and will do us all proud.”

BCDF Pictures’ Claude Dal Farra added: “We are thrilled to be working with Peter, Josh, and the team on our latest romantic comedy.”

MSE is selling another BCDF Pictures adaptation of a NY Times bestseller, “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” starring Kunal Nayar, Hale and Christina Hendricks, and BCDF Pictures’ adaptation of the New York Times bestseller “The Language of Flowers,” starring Kiersey Clemons.

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