Toronto 2011: Horror Pic 'You're Next' Sells to Lionsgate

The movie had its Toronto premiere in the Midnight Madness section.
"You're Next"
The movie had its Toronto premiere in the Midnight Madness section.

Lionsgate has picked up U.S. and Canadian rights to You’re Next, the much-buzzed about horror thriller from director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett.

Sources say the deal is in the $1 to $2 million range.

The movie has its Toronto premiere at Saturday’s Midnight Madness sidebar where the movie – about a family reunion under siege from animal-masked killers – had acquisition execs ranging from Lionsgate and Summit to Dimension, CBS Films and Film District in a tizzy. In the end, the bidders came down to Lionsgate and Paramount, which was partnering with Indian Paintbrush with the plan to release it via the studio's fledgling Insurge label.

The low-budget flick (just under $1 million, say insiders) spins a few home invasion tropes around, losing the oppressive nature of such films but not the scares, and adding a good dose of humor too. Most importantly, it turns on its head the girl-in-a-slasher-pic cliche by creating a memorable heroine in Australian actress Sharni Vinson, playing a family member’s girlfriend with some great instincts.

Snoot Entertainment's Keith Calder and Jessica Wu produced the movie with Barrett and Kim Sherman.

Lionsgate execs Jason ConstantineEda Kowan and Wendy Jaffe negotiated the deal with CAA on behalf of Snoot and Erik Hyman of Loeb & Loeb.

“This project represents everything that we look for in a horror film,” said Constantine. “It is a celebration of its genre, featuring top notch performances from a sophisticated script, brilliantly directed, that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats – when they’re not jumping out of them.”

The movie played well – we at Heat Vision called it the standup and cheer horror movie of the year – and fan websites are already calling it the best horror movie of the year.

But while the buzz was high, a deal was taking longer to materialize. A sale could have been made that very night but since interest was so high, the filmmakers were able to be choosy and structure a deal that allowed them participation in the film's success and as well as maintain control over possible sequels.

The movie isn’t as slick-looking as last year’s Midnight Madness breakout Insidious, nor does it have any recognizable star (Insidious at least had Patrick Wilson). Also, slasher movies inherently play less broad than, say, ghost stories or haunted house movies. But the movie delivers and a smart marketing campaign could easily overcome those hurdles.

Generate-repped Wingard previously directed A Horrible Way to Die, which premiered at TIFF last year.

Email: Borys.Kit@thr.com

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