EXCLUSIVE: Just before he flies in from Europe for the Sundance debut of his thriller The Hallow this weekend, Corin Hardy has signed with WME. This comes after a hotly contested signing battle for a filmmaker who makes his feature debut at the festival but who got Hollywood’s attention with the animated short Butterfly and for directing music videos for the likes of Ed Sheeran, Biffy Clyro, Keane, Paolo Nutini and The Prodigy. Off his highly visual work, Hardy was set direct The Crow for Relativity, with production to begin in April.

hallowAfter Hardy came in play recently, all of the agencies flew to Dublin to court the filmmaker as he worked on postproduction on The Hallow. Getting him in the WME fold pre-festival — with ICM Partners, WME Global is repping his Sundance movie, which premieres Sunday at midnight — alleviates the rep scrum that would have spread to the Park City slopes. The agency sees in him similarities to Guillermo del Toro when he was making his bones. Hardy is a storyboard conceptualist whose exquisite preparation won him The Crow job following the exit of F. Javier Gutierrez. Edgar Wright recommended Hardy to Relativity. Hardy has several  horror films of his own invention he hopes to make, so he could make a name for himself quickly.

The Hallow is set deep within the darkness of secluded forest land in rural Ireland. Feared by the superstitious nearby villagers as a haven for cursed creatures who prey upon the lost, the forest has been hidden from civilization and remains on their hallowed ground. But when a conservationist from London moves in with his wife and infant child in order to survey the land for future construction, his actions unwittingly disturb the horde of demonic forces. Alone in a remote wilderness, he now must ensure his family’s survival from their relentless attacks.

Buyer interest is high on this one. Hardy is repped by Hugo Young at Independent Talent Group, Elevate Entertainment’s Jenny Wood and attorney Fred Tozcek.