Cannes: 'Neon Demon' Director Nicolas Winding Refn to Produce 'Witchfinder General' Remake

Nicolas Winding Refn
Fabrizio Maltese

Nicolas Winding Refn's dark thriller Only God Forgives premiered in competition. "In a way I found pure evil through the womb of a woman," he told THR.

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Rupert Preston's Sunrise Films will co-produce the new version of the 1968 cult hit, with Vertigo handling distribution in the U.K.

Nicolas Winding Refn, whose latest feature, The Neon Demon, premieres in Cannes on Friday, has signed on to produce a reboot of 1968 cult horror classic Witchfinder General, aka The Conqueror Worm.

Refn and producing partner Lene Borglum will develop the project through Refn's Space Rocket shingle, together with Sunrise Films, the new banner set up by Britain-based producer/distributor Rupert Preston and Nigel Williams. Refn will not direct the reboot.

Vertigo Releasing has snatched up U.K. rights for the project, with Protagonist taking on international sales.

The original Witchfinder General starred Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy and Hilary Dwyer. Set in Norfolk, England, in 1645, it's an adaptation of the novel by Ronald Bassett about a fictional witch hunter, based on the real-life character Matthew Hopkins, whose career flourished during the English Civil War, when he is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of up to 300 women.

The 1968 original became a cult favorite on the grindhouse circuit in the U.S., in part because of its extreme and graphic violence.

The producers are reaching out to writers and directors for the project, which is targeting a budget of $5 million to $10 million and hopes to begin production next year. They have not yet decided whether the reboot will be set in the 17th century like the original or in modern times.