EXCLUSIVE: Open Road, the upstart distribution company formed by theater chains AMC and Regal, is making its second big acquisition. Tom Ortenberg’s company is acquiring domestic distribution rights to The Host, the Andrew Niccol-directed adaptation of Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer’s novel. I’m told that the there were at least three other distributors trying to get this and that the deal will be a seven-figure minimum guarantee, a healthy P&A commitment, and gross for participants that include the author.
Saoirse Ronan is set to play heroine Melanie Stryder, one of the last humans putting up a fight against an alien species called Souls, parasites that invade human bodies, fuse to each person’s consciousness and systematically erase their personalities. Melanie is captured by the aliens and implanted by a Soul called Wanderer. While Wanderer’s goal is to get Melanie to give up the remaining pockets of humans, the alien finds Melanie to be unique in her unwillingness to surrender her consciousness. Wanderer is so overwhelmed by Melanie’s memories and feelings that she is driven to reconnect with Melanie’s old life, which includes falling for Melanie’s boyfriend. The result is a complex, romantic and emotional human/alien love triangle. Nick Wechsler, Meyer, Paula Mae Schwartz and Steve Schwartz are producing. Inferno’s Marc Butan, Jim Seibel and Bill Johnson are exec producers and Roger Schwartz is co-producer.
Ortenberg got Open Road on the map with a Cannes deal for Killer Elite, the action film that stars Jason Staham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro, which has been set for Sept. 23 release. Rena Ronson of UTA Independent Film Group along with CAA and attorney David Fox brokered the Host deal. The film was one of the most prominent titles for offshore rights at the Cannes Film Festival last month.