Indie studio pacts with 'Haunting' producer

Looking to expand its pipeline and heap on more horror, Lionsgate has partnered with After Dark Films –producer of “An American Haunting” — to turn out a slate of films intended for wide release, along with some specialty titles.

Three-year production and distribution deal follows the box office success of “Haunting,” ADF’s first release after its formation by filmmaker-producer Courtney Solomon and Hong Kong-based real estate billionaire Allan Zeman. Pic, which opened in May on 1,700 screens, has grossed $16.5 million domestically. Solomon wrote and directed.

Pact with Lionsgate has three components. The first calls for ADF, which has offices in L.A. and Hong Kong, to provide three wide-release pics a year and up to two specialty films.

ADF’s taste departs from Lionsgate’s usual horror fare, with “American Haunting” having more of an indie flavor than the “Saw” and “Hostel” franchises.

Lionsgate will market and distribute the pics, with ADF putting up all the money for prints and advertising. Lionsgate will have worldwide distrib rights on most of the films, as well as all ancillary rights.

Secondly, Lionsgate expects to co-produce some films with ADF, with P&A expenses to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Third, ADF will continue to acquire and release its own titles through its arrangement with Mark Borde and Mike Doban’s Freestyle Releasing. Lionsgate will have homevid and all TV rights to these films (it releases “American Haunting” on DVD on Oct. 24.)

“ADF Films will help us continue to expand our wide-release slate with exciting independent product that complements our current business model,” said Lionsgate vice chairman Michael Burns, who helped orchestrate the deal.

Solomon said the deal was a “win-win situation, where we help them continue to grow their theatrical, DVD and international slates with product that is distinct from what they are already releasing, while they help us build ADF.”

Up next for ADF is “8 Films to Die For,” which opens Nov. 17 in the 500 top-grossing markets for horror.

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