Sundance: Lionsgate Closes Deal for Hot Midnight Title 'Cooties' (Exclusive)

COOTIES Sundance Film Still - H 2014
<p>COOTIES Sundance Film Still - H 2014</p>
UPDATED: Elijah Wood leads an ensemble cast for the horror comedy, which premiered Saturday night at the Egyptian Theatre.

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.

Jason Constantine, Lionsgate’s President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions, said, “We’re thrilled to have another Leigh Whannell project back at Lionsgate to build on our 10-year history together during which we released seven films in the SAW franchise that he co-created.  Leigh and Ian, along with all the filmmakers and cast of Cooties, have created a project that we found ourselves laughing out loud throughout and we cannot wait to share it with moviegoers!”
“I couldn’t be more excited that Cooties has found a home with Lionsgate, a decade after they beautifully handled the release of SAW,” said Leigh Whannel.  “I’m thrilled to be working with them again, and can’t wait to introduce Cooties to the world with their help.”
Added Wood, producer and star, “Even before we set forth on the production of Cooties, we've always seen the ideal home for this film to be at Lionsgate.  We could not be more thrilled!”


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."

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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.

"Glee and Saw just had a baby! And its name is Cooties," Brennan said.

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.