New Line Cinema, the Warner Bros. division behind the hit horror movie It, is keeping its incisors lodged in the genre, having picked up the rights to the short Dutch horror film Sweet Tooth.
James Wan, the mastermind of New Line’s billion dollar-grossing Conjuring horror universe, and Chris Bender, whose horror credits include Final Destination and The Butterfly Effect, are teaming to produce the feature adaptation.
Dutch filmmaker Nico van den Brink, who wrote and directed the short, will direct the feature and have a "story by" credit.
The short, which premiered in July at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival, centered on a woman who comes home to her large apartment tenement. Watching the news, she discovers that her neighbors — a mother and her two kids — have been killed, but then enters creep-zone territory when she begins to hear the laughter and running of the munchkins.
New Line will next hire a writer to flesh out the short’s concept into a feature.
The steps the company is taking mirror the process it undertook to make its 2016 hit Lights Out. New Line picked up the Swedish short by then-newbie David F. Sandberg, pairing him with Wan to develop a feature version that he went on direct. The movie was made for under $5 million and scared up almost $150 million worldwide. Sandberg, under Wan’s wing, then went on to helm this summer’s New Line hit Annabelle: Creation and is now prepping Shazam! for the division.
Van den Brink is an award-winning director who studied at the University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Film Academy. He has helmed a number of short films and commercials, but Sweet Tooth will represent his first feature.
Horror is a specialty of New Line, the only studio arm that continues to consistently serve up the genre. It is heading into its second weekend with $151 million domestically already under its belt and after shattering numerous box-office records. Annabelle: Creation, with a budget of $15 million, has earned over $281 million worldwide and is still in release.
Van den Brink is repped by Good Fear and Jeff Frankel of McKuin Frankel Whitehead.