EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has won an auction for U.S. distribution rights to an untitled “found footage” thriller that Scott Derrickson will direct, with Ethan Hawke starring. Jason Blum is producing with Brian Kavanaugh-Jones’ Automatik Entertainment and shooting starts in September. I’m told the movie will cost under $5 million, but the success of the Blum-produced micro-budget horror pics Paranormal Activity and Insidious ramped up the bidding on the project.
I’ve heard that Summit’s deal entitles it to a 17.5% distribution fee, but Summit is also on the hook for a 5% gross payment to the filmmakers. I’d heard there is a P&A commitment for a wide release, but insiders said the film will have to earn its way to a broad release. It’s an aggressive but not crazy deal because the budget on the film is so low and because past Blumhouse low-cost thrillers like Insidious and Paranormal Activity minted money, as did the Derrickson-directed The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Buyers bought it based on the track record of Blum and Derrickson, and they also got to read a script by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill that I’ve heard is good and unsettling. Hawke plays a journalist who travels with his family around the country to investigate gruesome murders he turns into books. After he moves his family into a house where another family was murdered, the journo discovers found footage that unveils horrifying clues beyond what caused the original tragedy. The movie was shopped by Kavanaugh-Jones of Automatik, the film company hatched by Alliance and IM Global. Charles Layton is exec producer.