David O. Russell’s next movie is coming together fast — thanks to the imminent commitment of Scarlett Johansson to star alongside its producer and leading man, Vince Vaughn. Vulture hears that Vaughn’s Wild West Picture Show production company has landed Johansson to star in Old St. Louis, a Paper Moon–esque road movie about a divorced traveling toy salesman who reconnects with his teen daughter after years on the road. Johansson would play Vaughn’s paramour, a secretary who accompanies them on their cross-country sales jaunt.
Insiders tell Vulture that the project had been around for years — earlier in the decade, it was called Toy Men and set up for Sony’s Columbia Pictures, with a script alternately worked on by Steve Pink (the screenwriter of movies like Gross Pointe Blank and High Fidelity and, more recently, the director of Hot Tub Time Machine) and Allen Loeb (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps). But now that it’s been so thoroughly rewritten by Russell, it bears only his name — and a new title.
Creative Artists Agency, which reps both Johansson and Vaughn, is in the midst of raising the financing for the $20 million indie project, but we hear it’s already closing in on a deal with Universal Pictures to distribute the drama, which is expected to start shooting this October.