Leigh, Law headlining ‘Existenz’

Jennifer Jason Leigh and rising star Jude Law have been set to headline David Cronenberg’s “Existenz,” which goes before the cameras next April in Toronto.

The story centers on a scientific researcher (Leigh) working in cutting-edge virtual reality technology. The film’s focus is a test that goes awry in which the borders of real and imagined incidents merge in a relentless game of nerves. Its graphic psychological horror has been likened to the filmmaker’s earlier “Videodrome” and “The Fly.”

“Existenz” dates back several years to when Cronenberg’s pitch was bought by Mike Marcus — his former agent — at MGM. Cronenberg wrote a script and the project was developed at the studio for more than a year. Eventually, he was allowed to take it back in turnaround and set it up with Alliance, which has produced his recent films.

With a budget between $15 million and $20 million, the producers are closing in on a U.S. pre-buy that could be sealed early in the week. Unconfirmed reports have Miramax tipped to pick up American rights for between $5 million and $6 million.

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