When Paul Dano requested the rights to adapt Richard Ford's novel into this movie he received the following response: "I am grateful to you for your interest in my book, but I should also say this in hopes of actually encouraging you. My book is my book, your picture, were you to make it, is your picture. Your movie maker's fidelity to my novel is of no great concern to me. Establish your own values, means, goal. Leave the book behind so it doesn't get in the way."
Paul Dano said it was tempting to use voiceover in the movie, but the filmmakers chose to set a challenge for themselves and do it without, thereby putting all of their effort into telling the story through the experience of the boy.
The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018. Shortly after, IFC Films acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film. It screened at the Cannes Film Festival on May 9, 2018. It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2018, the New York Film Festival on September 30, 2018, the Woodstock Film Festival on October 13, 2018, and the New Orleans Film Festival on October 18, 2018.