Focus to canonize ‘Saint’

Laugier to write, direct thriller

In the first pic to emerge from Focus Features’ first-look deal with Stephane Sperry’s Liaisons Films, the studio will finance and distribute French thriller “Saint Ange.”

Set in 1960 at a French orphanage with one lone resident, story revolves around a woman sent to spruce the place up when she starts seeing spooky things.

Along with Sperry, Richard Grandpierre and Christophe Gans (the duo who produced and directed “Brotherhood of the Wolf”) under their H Factory company banner, will produce.

Pascal Laugier will write and direct in his feature debut.

Sperry was co-prexy of the U.S. arm of Canal Plus under Jean-Marie Messier, the deposed CEO of Vivendi. Now based in Paris, Sperry’s deal with Focus is meant to funnel European film talent into pictures for Focus (Daily Variety, Dec. 16, 2002).

French actresses Virginie Ledoyen and Lou Doyon will star in “Saint Ange.” Production on simultaneous English- and French-lingo versions is scheduled to start this month in France.

Focus co-prexys David Linde and James Schamus said in a statement, “Pascal’s concept is in the great thriller tradition, echoing not only ‘The Sixth Sense’ and ‘The Others,’ but also French classics like ‘Diabolique.’ ”

StudioCanal subsidiary Eskwad is co-financing the film and will distribute in France and other Francophone territories.

Focus wants to sell other overseas territories for “Saint Ange” next month at Cannes.

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