January 20, 2014 1:52pm PT by Borys Kit, Tatiana Siegel
Sundance: Lionsgate Closes Deal for Hot Midnight Title 'Cooties' (Exclusive)
PARK CITY – Lionsgate has closed a a deal to acquire North American distribution rights to Cooties, the horror comedy starring Elijah Wood that premiered Saturday at Sundance’s Park City at Midnight sidebar. A source pegs the deal at seven figures.
Cooties marks the debut feature of Wood and his SpectreVision production banner, which he runs with Daniel Noah and Josh Waller. The company specializes in the horror genre and also has A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a black-and-white Iranian vampire Western, which is premiering at the festival. Cooties is the debut movie of directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, known for helming the short Boob, about a killer breast.
Cooties follows a struggling writer/substitute teacher whose first day at an elementary school sees him dealing with a virus that turns the kids into mindless killing cannibals. The teacher bands with the survivors -- played by Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer and Leigh Whannell, among others -- to figure out an escape from the school.
Glacier Films financed the film, which THR film critic John DeFore called "star-stuffed, well-paced and very funny...and should easily connect with auds beyond the genre-buff faithful."
Whannell, who is the writer behind the Saw and Insidious horror franchises, partnered with Ian Brennan, co-creator of TV’s Glee, to write the script for the movie that had the midnight crowd in stitches when it premiered Saturday. The film was one of the most anticipated of the midnight movies, with the line to get in stretching behind the theater and scores not getting in.
In a nice bit of kismet, Cooties premiered exactly 10 years after the Sundance debut of Whannell's Saw, which Lionsgate bought, and which went on to become one of the biggest horror franchises in history.
Paradigm's Ben Weiss repped the film.