Thriller first project for FilmEngine

The Ashton Kutcher-toplined “The Butterfly Effect” has been acquired by New Line Cinema, becoming the first project from the financing and foreign sales partnership FilmEngine.

The psychological thriller was written and will be directed by “Final Destination 2″ scribes J. Mackye Gruber and Eric Bress. Amy Smart, William Lee Scott and Elden Henson are negotiating to join the cast.

Produced by Benderspink, “Butterfly” is the story of a young man struggling to access sublimated childhood memories. He finds a technique that allows him to travel back to the past, occupy his childhood body and change history. But he finds that every change he makes has unexpected consequences.

Principal photography is slated to begin May 27 in Vancouver on a budget of $13 million.

“O” producers Anthony Rhulen and Bill Shively, with former New Line exec A.J. Dix, founded FilmEngine a year ago. Tyler Mitchell later joined them in the partnership.

FilmEngine is credited on “O,” as well as on Benderspink’s upcoming New Line release “Cheaters.” But “Butterfly” will be the first title to be produced under the FilmEngine model of acquiring, developing and fully financing inhouse, with foreign rights to be sold by Kathy Morgan Intl. Endeavor packaged the project.

Producing “Butterfly” are Chris Bender, J.C. Spink, Dix and Rhulen. Exec producing are Shively with Katalyst partners Kutcher and Jason Goldberg. New Line exec VP production Richard Brener, creative exec Cale Boyter and production prexy Toby Emmerich will oversee the project.

” ‘Butterfly Effect’ is a script we’ve liked for a long time,” said Brener. “We hired Gruber and Bress to write ‘Final Destination 2′ on the basis of ‘Butterfly Effect.’ “

In addition to its joint venture with Benderspink, FilmEngine has an overhead deal with Roulette Prods., a shingle run by Josh Hartnett, Rhulen and Henson.

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