VARIETY – Hulu will premiere the first three episodes of its new original psychological thriller show “Castle Rock” on July 25. The anthology series from J.J. Abrams is based on the works of Stephen King and stars Andre Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Sissy Spacek, Bill Skarsgard, Jane Levy and Scott Glenn.
The script by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen was on the 2016 Black List.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Bill Skarsgard, who played Pennywise the Clown in It, and It Follows star Maika Monroe have signed on to star in Villains, a dark comedy-thriller from The Realm and Star Thrower Entertainment.
Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, who wrote the script that was on the 2016 Black List, will direct.
The story centers on a pair of amateur criminals who, after breaking into a suburban home, stumble upon a young girl chained in the basement and two sadistic homeowners who will do anything to keep that secret from getting out.
Tim and Trevor White are producing via their company Star Thrower, which was involved in Steven Spielberg’s The Post and also produced Matt Spicer’s Indie Spirit award-winning Ingrid Goes West. Star Thrower’s production head Allan Mandelbaum is also producing, as is Garrick Dion of Realm, which will see its latest movie, Prospect, premiere later this month at SXSW.
BRON’s Aaron L. Gilbert and Creative Wealth Media’s Jason Cloth are executive producing. Rick Rickertsen and Mary Solomon are co-producing.
Endeavor Content is representing North American rights.
Skarsgard is coming off the Sundance premiere of Assassination Nation, which was produced by BRON and picked up by NEON.
Monroe recently starred alongside Jennifer Garner in The Tribes of Palos Verdes and alongside Timothée Chalamet in Hot Summer Nights.
Skarsgard is repped by WME and Magnolia Entertainment, and Monroe is repped by WME and Management 360. Berk and Olsen are repped by UTA, Kaplan/Perrone and Frankfurt Kurnit.
DEADLINE – EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: NEON indeed landed Assassination Nation, but they have a partner in what is the first eight-figure deal of the Sundance Film Festival. NEON acquired the picture with AGBO for north of $10 million for worldwide rights, and a wide release commitment. AGBO is the new progressive production company launched by Joe and Anthony Russo. 30WEST arranged the deal on behalf of Neon and AGBO, and Endeavor Content repped the film.
The film stars Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Bill Skarsgard, Bella Thorne, Colman Domingo, Joel McHale and Aniki Noni Rose. Oroducers are David Goyer, Anita Gou, Kevin Turen, Aaron L. Gilbert, Matthew J. Malek and Manu Gargi.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: After another all-night bidding battle, NEON is negotiating toward a deal to acquire the provocative Assassination Nation, sources said. This would mark its second major buy of Sundance, following yesterday’s deal for Monsters and Men, and the announcement that 30WEST acquired a majority stake in the distribution company started by Tom Quinn and Tim League and which is in the awards mix with Toronto acquired film I, Tonya.
Directed and written by Sam Levinson, the film tells the story of what happens when a social media-savvy high school senior and her friends observe the results of what happens when a provocateur starts posting details from the private digital lives of everyone in their small town — it turns the town upside down. Browser histories, direct messages, illegal downloads, secret text chains, and worse. It creates a worst-case scenario of what is possible in the digital age.
DEADLINE – Premiering his wicked and wild first feature Another Happy Day at Sundance seven years ago, writer/director Sam Levinson returns this year with another stylish and haunting feature, Assassination Nation, which takes on a number of timely topics.
A “thousand percent true story,” Levinson’s latest follows high school senior Lily (Odessa Young) and her crew of besties, whose lives are shaped by the digital age, expressing themselves through texts, posts, selfies and chats. A film about “the abuse and madness and craziness of being a young person today,” Assassination Nation really kicks off when a provocateur starts posting details from peoples’ private digital lives in the public forum, leading to a murderous “Category 5 sh*tstorm.”
“The main idea I was exploring is how we treat one another, and how the internet can at times sort of create this barrier in which empathy isn’t able to get through,” Levinson remarked at Deadline’s Sundance Studio, with stars Young, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse, Abra and Bill Skarsgård alongside him. “I also wanted to deal with mob mentality and vigilantism, and how truth has become splintered.”
With Another Happy Day, Assassination Nation and The Wizard of Lies—which he co-wrote for father Barry Levinson—the younger Levinson has displayed an extraordinary ability when it comes to crafting complex female characters. In studio, this was something Levinson’s stars could attest to.
“I thought Sam was a woman when I first read the script,” Young said.
While Assassination Nation explores a lot of contemporary ideas and issues, at its core it is perhaps about rage. And what could be timelier than that?
“I think cinematically and from a storytelling point of view, if you want to tell story about rage and violence in 2018, you’re probably going to want to tell that story through a woman’s lens, with female characters,” Nef said. “Because nobody knows these things as ell, gender-wise, as women do.”
To view Deadline’s conversation with the Assassination Nation team, click above.