BBC America dropped a trailer for their August 23 paranormal series The Intruders, about a secret society chasing immortality by taking over the bodies of others. The show, adapted from Michael Marshall Smith’s novel of the same name, is being spearheaded by Glen Morgan, a writer and executive producer of TV’s The X-Files and New Line’s Final Destination 1 and 3. With Blair Witch Project‘s Eduardo Sanchez and The Last Exorcism‘s Daniel Stamm directing episodes, the series is upping the ante with some serious horror and suspense. Set in the Pacific Northwest, John Simm stars as Jack Whelan, a former LAPD cop with a troubled history, whose quiet life is shattered when his wife Amy (played by Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino) goes missing. As calamity ensues, a sinister agent Richard Shepherd (James Frain) is embarking on a series of lethal executions, while a little girl (Millie Brown) runs away from home into a world of danger. Tory Kittles also stars.
First deal out of SXSW today is Lionsgate‘s purchase of the North American rights for Eduardo Sanchez‘s Bigfoot feature Exists. Sanchez co-directed the 1999 microbudget title The Blair Witch Project for $60K, which then-distributor Artisan morphed into a worldwide phenom with close to $250 million at the box office. Below is Lionsgate’s release for the Jamie Nash-scripted Exists:
(Austin, TX & Santa Monica, CA, March 8, 2014) — Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) has acquired North American distribution rights to EXISTS, a new horror film from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT director Eduardo Sánchez. The film played last night to a sold-out midnight screening at SXSW in Austin.
In Bigfoot’s bold return to the big screen, five friends on a camping weekend in the remote woods of East Texas struggle to survive against a legendary predator that is stronger, smarter, and more terrifying than anything they would have ever believed exists.
EXCLUSIVE: Image Entertainment has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Lovely Molly, the thriller directed by Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sanchez. The deal is high six figures and the plan is to release theatrically next spring. Lovely Molly made its debut in the Midnight Madness section of the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. Newcomer Gretchen Lodge plays the title character, a newlywed who returns to her long-abandoned family home and is hit with scary reminders of her nightmarish childhood that quickly color her new life. She descends into an evil that is part psychosis and part obsession. Haxan Films’ Robin Cowie and Gregg Hale produced with Amber Entertainment’s Jane Fleming and Mark Ordesky.
The deal comes as Content Film sells international territories at AFM. Image acquisitions VP Mark Ward called the film “a return and evolution to the genre that [Eduardo] created” with Blair Witch. “We look forward to partnering with Haxan and Amber to maximize the truly robust transmedia marketing campaign they’ve put together to make the film a huge success.” It’s the second significant AFM-timed deal for Image, which on Friday launched a distribution relationship with Alamo Drafthouse.
Content has acquired foreign rights on Lovely Molly, the genre film written and directed by Blair Witch Project‘s Eduardo Sanchez. A domestic distribution deal is coming. Lovely Molly made its debut in the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto Film Festival last month. The title character (Gretchen Lodge) is a newlywed who returns to her long abandoned family home and is hit with scary reminders of her nightmarish childhood that quickly color her new life. She snaps, basically, into a descent into an evil that is one part psychosis and another part possession. WME Global’s Graham Taylor and and BHDRL’s Stuart Rosenthal made the deal. The film’s produced by Robin Cowie, Gregg Hale, Jane Fleming, and Mark Ordesky. The intention is to employ the same kind of viral marketing that helped turned Blair Witch into such a big hit. “We were shocked by Gretchen Lodge’s extraordinary performance, it’s truly a sensational debut, in this powerfun and intense film from Eduardo Sanchez,” Content’s Jamie Carmichael said. “We’re delighted to be working with the Haxan and Amber teams on what promises to be a highly innovative and compelling campaign.” Content will sell the film at next week’s AFM. After the eye-opening $54 million opening weekend of Paranormal Activity 3, there should be a captive audience.
Was the 2011 Toronto Film Festival a good one for dealmaking? Even after organizers announced a 20% uptick in film deals last Friday (the festival includes foreign territories in its count), the sales kept coming. A long-expected deal with Lionsgate on the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids finally got done (in partnership with Roadside Attractions, which will actually release the film), and Music Box announced overnight it had acquired the Rachel Weisz-starrer The Deep Blue Sea. Lionsgate was hotly pursuing another film, the Midnight Madness sensation You’re Next, which of all the festival films seems to have the best chance of approaching the box office turned in by Toronto 2010’s breakout Insidious. There have been about 20 acquisitions so far and that many more could come in the next few weeks.
Still, can you call the Toronto acquisitions marketplace “solid” when no films have been bought so far by The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classics, Focus Features, or Fox Searchlight (yeah, I revealed that they bought Shame during Toronto, but it was a deal all but sealed in Venice), or for that matter FilmDistrict, Open Road or Relativity Media, each of which jumped into the distribution business to release films that can play on upwards of 2000 screens? Buyers and sellers said it was a pretty good festival at least. One filled with mostly small deals and a show of distributor discipline that is a positive sign for an indie film sector that just started pulling out of a nosedive this time last year.
Tonight marked the world premiere of Lovely Molly, the fright film helmed by Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sanchez. When a newlywed returns to her long-abandoned family home, frightful reminders of a nightmarish childhood seep into her new life and she descends into evil that blurs the lines between psychosis and possession.
Last year’s Toronto Film Festival started slow for acquisitions, but finished with a flurry of modest distribution deals that served notice the specialty film business had finally pulled out of its nosedive. This year’s festival hasn’t started and already there are fireworks. Deadline broke news yesterday that Harvey Weinstein would start a VOD business, making the acquisitions market for fringe films more competitive; and last night, I heard that a bidding battle had already broken out for the Steve McQueen-directed Shame, which should be sold by the time it screens Sunday. Fox Searchlight is the favorite, Sony Pictures Classics is in the mix and I’ve heard that The Weinstein Company is hovering. Bidding began right after its Telluride screening, and the mid-six figures thrown around yesterday will probably go higher. That’s huge, considering the movie is an unabashed NC-17, McQueen has final cut, and the sex-obsessed protagonist is unlikable. Oh, yeah, and the sellers want it released this year for Oscar consideration to capitalize on Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan’s Oscar-caliber performances.
Does this mean we’re in for a drunken buying frenzy? Hardly, buyers tell me. They are eager to see the films, but say there’s no title here that’s going to guarantee somebody will overpay. They are also mindful that many of last year’s deals turned out to be box office busts. More deals will be made than …