EXCLUSIVE: You don’t see that many films acquired at Sundance getting sequels, but Sony’s Stage 6 Films is working on a second installment of Searching, the thriller about a father’s desperate search for his missing daughter that Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions bought for $5 million in a world rights deal and watched become a breakout hit that grossed $75 million worldwide. It was released by Sony’s Stage 6 Films and Screen Gems.
Directed by Aneesh Chaganty and starring John Cho and Debra Messing, the original cleverly turned the computer screen into a cinematic canvas as a father accustomed to parenting through iMessages and quick FaceTime chats, realizes his daughter has gone missing and uses the laptop she left behind to locate clues to find her before it is too late.
That film turned out to be the bargain of 2018 Sundance, much the same as the $6 million A24 acquisition The Farewell has so far proved to be from the crop of films acquired at last January’s Sundance. Sony’s Stage 6 films will have to find a new plot and cast for the sequel, but I’m told that the original creative team has been engaged to return and figure all that out.
That Bazelevs production was produced by Timur Bekmambetov, Sev Ohanian, Adam Sidman, and Natalie Qasabian, written by Chaganty & Ohanian. Original marked the feature directorial debut of Chaganty, who was 25 at the time and got a directing shot after his two-minute short film, a Google Glass spot called Seeds, got over 1 million YouTube views in 24 hours. Chaganty was asked to join the Google Creative Lab in New York City, where he spent two years developing, writing, and directing Google commercials, and then he quit to make Searching. Maybe he will end up launching the rare Sundance-hatched franchise.
Chaganty and Ohanian are repped by CAA and attorney Arine Harapeti; Bekmambetov is WME.