Richard Kelly to direct horror film

Media Rights Capital has set Cameron Diaz to star in “The Box,” a horror film to be directed by “Donnie Darko” helmer Richard Kelly.

Kelly wrote the script based on Richard Matheson short story “Button, Button.” Production will begin in the fall on the pic, which will aim for a PG-13 rating. Diaz will play a young woman given a mysterious box by a stranger. She’s told that certain things will happen depending on which buttons she presses.

Media Rights Capital is committed to bankrolling the entire $30 million-plus budget, as it did with “Babel” and will with Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno.”

Kelly and Sean McKittrick will produce and Ted Hamm will be executive producer.

Media Rights Capital won’t begin the process of pursuing distribution until the fall, though it is unclear when those deals will be made.

MRC, which pays star salaries along with partial copyright ownership that gives talent a DVD windfall, has shown a knack for making distribution deals at the most advantageous time. That’s the model it used with Universal on “Bruno,” which sold during the height of “Borat” mania and secured a $42.5 million commitment to license rights in North America and certain other territories.

The recent $20 million opening of “1408” made the star-driven, high-concept supernatural thriller “The Box” feel like a viable financial proposition.

“The storyline has all the commerciality of ‘The Ring,’ but with Richard and Cameron, this film can rise to the level of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Others,’ ” said Modi Wiczyk, the former Endeavor agent who founded and runs MRC with Asif Satchu.

“My hope is to make a film that is incredibly suspenseful and broadly commercial, while still retaining my artistic sensibility,” Kelly said.

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