Pic begins production April 16

It’s no shocker: Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures are moving ahead with their bloody “Saw” franchise, which has grossed more than $400 million worldwide.

“Saw IV” will begin production on April 16 in Toronto. Pic will be released worldwide Oct. 26.

Darren Lynn Bousman, who helmed the first three “Saw” pics, will return to direct the fourth.

Pic will continue the horror tale surrounding a serial killer who’s nicknamed Jigsaw by the police because of his unusual calling card.

Producing are Twisted Pictures’ Mark Burg and Oren Koules. Exec producing are Daniel Jason Heffner, James Wan, Leigh Whannell and Stacey Testro, along with Lionsgate’s Peter Block, prexy of acquisitions and co-productions, and Jason Constantine, senior VP of acquisitions.

Following “Saw IV,” Lionsgate, Twisted Pictures and Bousman will reunite for “Repo! The Genetic Opera,” a horror opera that Bousman will direct from an original story by co-composers and screenwriters Terrance Zdunich and Darren Smith. Pic is set in the not-so-distant future, when a worldwide epidemic of organ failures inspires a biotech company to launch an organ-financing program reminiscent of an automobile loan plan — complete with a repossession clause.

Bousman, who directed the original stage production of “Repo!,” has been planning a bigscreen version for several years. Lionsgate signed on to distribute after viewing a 12-minute promo reel that Bousman created in 1½ days, the same scenario that brought the company the first “Saw” feature.

“Saw III” was last year’s top-grossing horror pic, taking in more than $80 million domestically and more than $100 million overseas. The “Saw” series also has been a top grosser in DVDs.

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