EXCLUSIVE: Fresh off starring in Season 2 of HBO’s The White Lotus, Theo James has been set to lead horror movie The Monkey, based on the short story by Stephen King.
The team behind the buzzy project includes genre supremo James Wan, creator of the The Conjuring Universe and co-creator of the Saw and Insidious franchises.
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Wan is producing with Atomic Monster partner Michael Clear (M3GAN), and C2 Motion Picture Group’s Jason Cloth (Joker) and Dave Caplan (Babylon). The supernatural story has been adapted for the screen by genre specialist Osgood Perkins (Longlegs), who also will direct.
Black Bear International is launching the project ahead of the Cannes market, where it will be among hot titles.
In The Monkey, when twin brothers Hal and Bill discover their father’s old monkey toy in the attic, a series of gruesome deaths starts occurring all around them. The brothers decide to throw the monkey away and move on with their lives, growing apart over the years. But when the mysterious deaths begin again, the brothers must reunite to find a way to destroy the monkey for good before it takes the lives of everyone close to them. Additional casting is underway.
Automatik’s Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Insidious) and Fred Berger (La La Land), Chris Ferguson (Child’s Play) and Stars Collective’s Peter Luo and Nancy Xu will executive produce alongside John Friedberg (Greenland) for Black Bear International.
The project was developed with Atomic Monster and Stars Collective, with C2 Motion Picture Group coming on board to fully finance.
Talking about the film, Wan said: “Stephen King is the godfather of the horror genre. He had a huge influence on me as a child and throughout my career, and it’s always been a dream to help bring one of his stories to life. The Monkey is a personal favorite, with its simple, iconic and incredibly marketable conceit. And I can’t imagine anyone better than a visionary and lifelong genre fan like Osgood to bring this to life.”
Added Cloth and Caplan: “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Osgood, James, Brian and our friends at Black Bear International to present Stephen King’s The Monkey. It perfectly checks the box of what is working in the marketplace right now and will be a hot property. We can’t wait for audiences to see Theo James in this role – he is really going to knock it out the park with an amazing performance.”
Wan, whose Conjuring Universe is the highest-grossing horror franchise in history, recently produced M3GAN and is also known for directing tentpoles including Furious 7 ($1.5B) and Aquaman ($1.15 B).
Underworld and Divergent star James next will be seen as the lead in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen TV series for Netflix.
Black Bear International’s stacked Cannes slate includes Ritchie’s upcoming untitled action movie, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Henry Cavill and Eiza González; Matthew McConaughey crime thriller The Rivals of Amziah King from Black Bear Pictures and Heyday; the romantic drama On Swift Horses, starring Daisy Edgar Jones, Jacob Elordi and Will Poulter; Max Minghella’s thriller Shell, starring Elisabeth Moss, Kate Hudson and Kaia Gerber; and Timur Bekmambetov’s Motor City starring Alan Ritchson.
This is the second King project we’ve revealed for the Cannes market in consecutive days with buyers also getting a bite at Tom Hiddleston-Mark Hamill starrer The Life of Chuck. It’s rare for a market to have one Stephen King project, so two is a treat given the King of Horror’s track record and the horror genre’s general box office boon.
James is represented by UTA, Markham, Froggatt and Irwin, and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern. Perkins is repped by CAA, Grandview, and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols. The deal was negotiated on behalf of Black Bear International by Jill Silfen.
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