Espen Sandberg to Direct Survival Thriller 'The Beast' Starring Morena Baccarin

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Morena Baccarin

The film is the first project to emerge from a production and distribution joint venture formed in August by Japanese internet giant Rakuten and Los Angeles-based film outfit The H Collective.

The upcoming survival thriller The Beast, co-produced by Japanese internet giant Rakuten and Los Angeles-based film outfit The H Collective, has found its director and star.

Norwegian filmmaker Espen Sandberg, best known for Kon-Tiki and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, has signed on to direct, while Morena Baccarin is set to play the lead. The casting was announced Wednesday in Berlin ahead of the start of the Berlin International Film Festival and European Film Market. Christine Crokos was previously attached to helm The Beast but has left the project.

Described as a "hard-hitting survival thriller," The Beast follows a woman who survives a plane crash to find herself stranded on a seemingly deserted island in the South Pacific. She then must fight to get back to her children, facing both her inner demons and a very real threat of unimaginable proportions.

The project is the first film to emerge from a production and distribution joint venture formed in August by Rakuten and The H Collective.

Based on writer Aaron W. Sala’s Black List script, The Beast is set to begin shooting in late March in New Zealand. The H Collective's chairman Kenneth Huang and president Sherryl Clark are producing alongside Rakuten CEO Mickey Mikitani. 

"For me, The Beast is a story about a woman that is forced to break out of her victim mentality by finding her inner strength and courage to fight for herself and reclaim her life," said Sandberg. "[It] is a refreshing merge of genres with horror, thriller, action and dramatic elements, with a strong female lead and important theme."

"Espen brings an amazing depth of experience as a strong storyteller who loves the ‘against all odds’ survival element," said Clark. “We both fell in love with Morena after our initial meeting — she has such range."

Baccarin's first big career breakthrough came from her Emmy-nominated performance on Showtime's Homeland. She then went on to co-star opposite Ryan Reynolds in Fox's Deadpool and Deadpool 2. The actress can next be seen alongside Gerard Butler in the STX thriller Greenland, currently in postproduction, and in Amblin Partners' The Good House, opposite Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline.

Baccarin is repped by UTA and Seven Summits Pictures & Management. Sandberg is with UTA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Lindberg Management. 

Founded in 2017 and headed by Paramount veteran Nic Crawley, The H Collective's current slate also includes The Remainders, a two-handed revenge thriller written by Derek Kolstad (John Wick), and Christopher Cantwell’s thriller The Parts You Lose, starring Aaron Paul.

A version of this story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 20 daily issue at the Berlin International Film Festival.