STXfilms is closing a high seven-figure multi-territory pre-buy for Scott Cooper-directed psychological horror A Head Full Of Ghosts, which will star Margaret Qualley Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood.
STX will distribute in the U.S. and UK and, like it did on Gunpowder Milkshake last month, teamed up with its output partners in Latin America Sun, Canada Elevation and Benelux The Searchers to acquire those markets as well. Partnering up gives the buyers a better chance of fending off the deep-pocketed streamers.
The film is backed by Cross Creek, Team Downey and The Allegiance Theater. CAA Media Finance repped the U.S. rights while Mad River launched foreign sales at the European Film Market in Berlin last month.
Pic is an adaptation of Paul Tremblay's popular horror novel, and Cooper is revising the current draft. The film sees a young woman recount to a journalist the terrifying story of how her family was publicly ripped apart 20 years prior by her teenage sister’s mysterious affliction. Additional casting is underway.
Berlin turned out to be a buoyant market in the end. Certainly at the top end. Between Netflix’s splash for The Good Nurse, Searchlight grabbing Perfect, AGC’s sell-out on Little America, STX’s deals for this film and Gunpowder Milkshake and multiple eye-catching deals on its sales slate, it was a better than average EFM. The hope has been that Cannes could follow suit.
Qualley is also coming off Fosse/Verdon, The Leftovers and Berlin opener My Salinger Year. Cooper most recently directed the Keri Russell-Jessie Plemons-starrer Antlers.
A Head Full Of Ghosts is being produced by Daniel Dubiecki and Lara Alameddine of the Allegiance Theater, Susan Downey of Team Downey, Tyler Thompson of Cross Creek, Cooper and David Gambino. Robert Downey Jr is exec producing.
The film marks the second collaboration for Cooper and Cross Creek, after the Johnny Depp-starrer Black Mass for Warner Bros that grossed $99M worldwide. Cross Creek's other forays in the psychological thriller space include Black Swan and Woman in Black. Cross Creek just wrapped the Aaron Sorkin-directed Trial of the Chicago 7, with Paramount releasing in the fall, and the Vin Diesel-starrer Bloodshot.
In this digital era, more and more creatives are going the online streaming way to get difficult projects funded by more accomodating streaming giants like Netflix and HBO. But a theatrical release is still a powerful draw, as proven by Searchlight Pictures' recently winning a fierce bidding war to produce American gymnast biopic Perfect, with Olivia Wilde set to direct, for $15 million.
Perfect is based on gymnast Kerri Strug's memoir 'Landing on my Feet, a Diary of Dreams'. The story follows Strug's career all the way to the 1996 Olympics when an 18-year-old Strug performed her routine despite having a severely injured ankle, helping her team win its first gold medal.
It is the kind of positive, inspiring true-to-life story with a feminist twist that has every chance of becoming a darling of the critics and a box-office hit, so there is no wonder there was a fierce bidding war to buy the rights to the Kerri Strug movie when Wilde made her presentation of the script written by Ronnie Sandahl at the Berlin Film Festival last month.
It is being said that HBO Max was particularly anxious to buy the project, and offered a great deal more money than the other, more traditional movie production teams, which included A24, WB, and Paramount. But Wilde instead chose to go with the option which would ensure that her film would be released in theaters before going to home streaming.
Wilde has already garnered acclaim for her debut feature as a director Booksmart, which got her an Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature Film. Backed by her win, she was able to get the lucrative deal with Searchlight, with CAA Media Finance brokering the deal. Nik Bower is attached to co-produce Perfect for Riverstone Pictures and Thomas Benski for Pulse Films, along with Jeremy Baxter and Moss Barclay. Wilde will act as executive producer along with Deepak Nayer, Marisa Clifford, and Sandalh.
Strug's triumph at the 1996 Olympics is widely considered one of the most iconic moments for women in sports. The photo of Strug with her injured ankle being carried out to the medals podium to join her teammates is frequently cited in online lists of the most inspiring examples of perseverance and team spirit in sports.
Following the event, Strug became an instant celebrity, appearing on one talk show after another, visiting President Clinton, and featuring on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The athlete's achievement also became the stuff of pop legend, finding reference on many shows like Murphy Brown, Community, and Sabrina: The Teenage Witch.
As of now, there is no news on the casting for the film, neither is a start date for filming locked down. With the present condition of the world not allowing for any kind of gathering of large groups, the production of the movie will no doubt have to be stalled indefinitely until conditions improve enough for the project to begin filming. Deadline brougt this news first.