Brian Oliver, President of Cross Creek Pictures and Steven Chester Prince, President of Vertebra Films announced today they have partnered to fully finance two horror projects with Eli Roth producing.
Cross Creek Pictures will handle all distribution rights for the two films in conjunction with CAA. Financing will be provided by Vertebra Films, an equity fund recently started by Prince, a former executive at Cross Creek.
The first project Roth will produce is Clown, with Jon Watts directing and Watts and Christopher D. Ford writing the screenplay. Watts has directed numerous commercials as well as music videos for artists including Fatboy Slim and TV On The Radio.
Clown follows the story of a loving father who dons a clown outfit and make-up to perform at his son’s sixth birthday, only to later discover the costume red nose and wig included will not come off, and his own personality changing in horrific fashion. To break the curse of the evil outfit, the father must make grim choices with his own family facing danger.
Clown recently appeared on the internet as a viral video “trailer” put together by Ford and Watts. Boldly splashing industry names such as Lionsgate, Screen Gems and Roth himself, the Hostel-esque trailer gained Ford and Watts immediate notoriety and meetings with Roth, Prince and Oliver. Production is aiming for the first quarter in 2011. You can watch the video below.
The second project, Aftershock, is a high-octane horror-thriller set during the aftermath of the February 27, 2010 Chilean earthquake. The plot details are being kept tightly under wraps, but the story is inspired the catastrophe that claimed more than 480 lives and registered an 8.8 on the Richter scale.
The screenplay will be written by Roth alongside Latin-American filmmakers Nicolás López and Guillermo Amoedo, with López set to direct. López, who hails from Chile, recently directed the Spanish-language hit F*ck My Life or “FML” (“Que Pena Tu Vida”), the highest grossing Chilean-produced film of 2010.
Clown and Aftershock will be produced by Roth and financed by Vertebra Films, with distribution rights handled by Cross Creek.
“Eli pitched these to us at a lunch, and by the time we got back to our offices we were already talking with his agents,” says Oliver. “He has an affinity and respect for the genre that shows through in all of his films. Eli is a master at finding projects with great hooks and drawing audiences to captivating, entertaining horror films.”
Adds Prince, “My partners and I have been looking for the perfect projects to launch Vertebra Films. We stopped looking after meeting Eli Roth.”
Roth says, “I’m incredibly excited to bring make these projects my next ‘Eli Roth Presents.’ These guys are ready to make their mark in the genre.”
He continues, “I was blown away when I saw that ‘Clown’ trailer. Everyone thought it was real, or that I had at least made a fake trailer. I called the guys right away and their first response was ‘Thank you for not suing us!’ I said ‘Sue you? Let’s make this into a real film!’ They are incredibly talented, smart guys ready to make their feature debut.”
He adds, “I have been a huge fan of Nicolas Lopez since his first film ‘Promedio Rojo.’ We had been talking about making an English-language film set in Chile, something with the intensity of a film like ‘REC.’ When Nicolas described to me the terror of hours following the Chilean earthquake, we knew we had found the perfect setting for our story. No phones, no electricity, no police…no chance. All the elements you need for a terrifying story are literally right there under the surface.”
Eli Roth recently produced The Last Exorcism with Strike Entertainment, which was made for just under $2 million and has grossed more than $60 million worldwide with more major territories set for release. Roth is currently in pre-production with Strike Entertainment on the films, Man with the Iron Fists, which Roth co-wrote with RZA that starts shooting in December, and the remake of Funhouse, which starts shooting in early 2011. Cross Creek Pictures first release is the critically acclaimed Black Swan, co-produced and co-financed with Fox Searchlight, opening December 3rd in New York and Los Angeles. Clown will represent Vertebra Films’ first production.
CAA, which represents Roth and Oliver, put the deal together along with Cross Creek’s and Vertebra’s attorney Eric Greenfeld of Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman.