EXCLUSIVE: Hot off the web release of a short film that demonstrates franchise potential for an ass-kicking teenage exorcist, the Rebecca Sonnenshine spec script Realm just sold to Relativity Studios in a mid-six-figure deal. Scott Speer is attached to direct. In the short, a young woman (played here by Adelaide Kane) possesses the power to enter the soul of the possessed to wage physical battle against their inner demons. The result is a potential franchise in the vein of Resident Evil or Underworld, with a heroine reminiscent of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (she’s great at killing demons, less so at handling her own demons in the real world). This becomes the latest material sale spurred by a short film that proved a sale-able concept; it seems a smart and inexpensive way to get a feature deal in this franchise-hungry climate.
Relativity was slipped the script just as things began heating up for the short online, and the deal got made quickly. The idea came from John Swetnam (who scripted the short) and Speer, and they enlisted Sonnenshine to pen the script (she is a supervising producer on Vampire Diaries and knows the teen existential crisis-meets-the supernatural terrain). Swetnam, known for Into The Storm and Step Up 5, will produce through his Mad Horse Films banner. It’s his third team-up with Speer, who directed Step Up 4 and Spinback and the pilot for MTV’s Finding Carter. Speer will be exec producer.
Sonnenshine is repped by ICM Partners, Circle of Confusion and Adam Kaller; Swetnam by Paradigm & Loeb and Loeb; Speer by WME & Principato Young Entertainment. Relativity exec veep Richard Potter and CE Becky Sanderman will oversee the film on behalf of the studio.