Singer inks ‘The Usual’ deal

Almost a year to the day that Bryan Singer’s film “Public Access” tied for the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, the 27-year-old has inked a deal to direct his second feature, “The Usual Suspects,” for German producer/distributor WMG.

Written by Christopher McQuarrie, his collaborator on “Public Access, “”Suspects” is “a psychological cat-and-mouse tale driven by a U.S. Customs agent’s search for a felon who is believed by everyone else to be dead,” the filmmaker said.

Victoria Wisdom of Becsey, Wisdom, Kalajian Agency repped Singer in negotiations.

Singer’s first film, “Public Access,” told the story of a stranger who antagonizes a small town when he begins spreading gossip about its residents on a cable TV show. His second film is budgeted between $ 6 million and $ 10 million.

The deal came about after Robert Jones, head of WMG’s London office, first saw Singer’s directorial debut last year at Sundance.

WMG is perhaps best known in the U.S. as the co-financier of Louis Malle’s “Damage” and as the executive producer of “Sirens,” the Sam Neill period drama that bows at this year’s festival. Miramax will open the film Stateside in March.

“‘The Usual Suspects’ was the most accomplished and exciting piece of writing I had seen since ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ which I acquired for the U.K.,” said WMG’s Jones.

For Singer, the deal with WMG was ideal because rather than chase a housekeeping set-up with one of the majors, the director can now make a pic outside the studio system. In the indie arena, the helmer feels he can have more creative control.

“Let’s face it,” says Singer, “as a young director you’re not being offered the same material as Martin Scorsese. So I wanted to generate another film with my friend Christopher McQuarrie. Going to a finance company seemed the most appropriate direction to make a project which you direct and produce.”

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