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FilmDistrict Quietly Drops Hot Toronto Pick-Up

Oculus Film Still - H 2013
"Oculus"

UPDATED: "Oculus" makes its world premiere in the Midnight Madness section at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, where the project will look for a new home.

FilmDistrict is no longer releasing director Mike Flanagan's Oculus, based on his acclaimed short film of the same name.

Intrepid Pictures' Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans, along with MICA Entertainment, produced and financed the horror pic, which makes its world premiere at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival. It will play in the coveted Midnight Madness section.

Peter Schlessel's FilmDistrict scooped up U.S. distribution rights to the project in May 2012 during the Cannes Film Market, several months before Flanagan started shooting. The distributor put up $500,000 to
$1 million.

Under certain circumstances, however, the filmmakers had the option to shop the movie to other buyers. Intrepid wants the film to open nationwide, while FilmDistrict was planning a smaller release, according to insiders. Both sides say Schlessel's assistance was invaluable during the making of Oculus, and that FilmDistrict could still give the movie some sort of release if a new buyer doesn't bite.

"It's a win-win for everybody," said one person close to the movie.

Oculus revolves around a horrifying family incident that left two young children orphans a decade earlier. Authorities charged the brother with murder, but the sister believes the true culprit is a haunted antique mirror, and is determined to prove her theory even though the brother has been rehabilitated and is ready to move on.

While Paradigm will be shopping the project to domestic buyers, Focus Features International will continue selling it to international distributors.