Well that didn’t take long. Just one month after signing with talent agency CAA, “40 Days of Dating” creators Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman have sold the rights to their story to Warner Bros. Their beautifully-designed blog chronicled a joint experiment in which the duo dated for 40 days and answered a series of questions each day about the experience.
Though the experiment proved to be a successful one professionally—Walsh and Goodman, both graphic designers, earned lavish praise for the site’s appearance—it did not end so well personally. The couple left for their rules-mandated weekend getaway to Disney World on Day 38 (the trip itself was mandated, not that they had to choose “The Happiest Place on Earth”) seemingly committed to continuing their relationship after the 40 days were up. By Day 39, however, the relationship had begun to sour, and by Day 40, it was over.
The relationship was doomed by all the things that normally doom a relationship between a self-described hopeless romantic (Walsh) and self-described commitment-phobe (Goodman). However the movie is made, it won’t be able to rely on the crucial attributes that turned the blog into a viral sensation: its impressive design and its comprehensive chronicling of the 40 days Walsh and Goodman spent together.
But Goodman hopes that although he and Walsh had only “front-end” creative control over the project, they might be able to contribute art and graphic design for the film. “We’re very interested if there’s possibilities to do art for the film—similar to how art and graphics were done for the website, since that’s a big way that we told our story,” Goodman says.
Whatever obstacles “40 Days” might face in getting to the big screen did little to diminish interest studios’ interest in acquiring the project. Deadline called the auction for the rights “wild,” and Michael Sucsy (The Vow) has already signed on to direct with Loren Scafaria (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) handling screenwriting duties.
“It was really about going with someone who really understood the sincerity of the project and the honesty of it all,” Goodman says. “That’s why we’re really excited about Loren Scafaria.”
Now it seems all that’s left to do is start with the fantasy casting. Entertainment Weekly has endorsed pairing The New Girl co-stars Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson in the title roles, while others have suggested Paul Bettany play Goodman’s role due to their similar appearance. Whoever is cast, the project is in for an uphill battle to distinguish itself from the many romantic comedies that have populated theaters in recent years.
What happens going forward is largely out of the erstwhile couple’s hands and it’s unclear how closely the script will hue to the real-life events of the experiment. Goodman acknowledged that although they will be consulting with the production team, he and Walsh will not be the guiding forces for the project.
“You try to pick the right people, and you close your eyes and pray for the best. What they make—it’s not my film,” he says. “If they make a film that’s not a true adaption of the blog—that’s not a mirror—our piece of work already exists. Whatever comes after that in terms of this film, that’s not our piece of art.”