First film will be Abe Sylvia's 'Dirty Girl'

On the eve of the release of his offbeat musical “Southland Tales,” Richard Kelly has joined producing partner Sean McKittrick and financier Ted Hamm to form Darko Entertainment.

The entity, named for the writer-helmer’s cult hit “Donnie Darko,” will aim to back modestly budgeted, director-driven films.

First up is “Dirty Girl,” skedded to start in November under the direction of tyro Abe Sylvia. “Dirty” is a co-venture with Killer Films, with longtime Killer associate John Wells serving as exec producer.

Killer is unveiling Sylvia’s pic on the heels of a busy Toronto, where its “Then She Found Me,” starring and directed by Helen Hunt, netted one of the fest’s big sales, a $3 million North American deal.

Its Todd Haynes-directed Bob Dylan pic “I’m Not There” also unspooled to largely positive response after netting Cate Blanchett an acting prize and Haynes a special jury prize in Venice.

Also under the Darko banner is “The Box,” a psychological thriller starring Cameron Diaz that is in pre-production. Pic is drawing on a recently announced fund from Media Rights Capitol.

Kelly’s “Southland,” a rough version of which preemed in Cannes two years ago, has been retooled and bows Nov. 9. It stars Justin Timberlake, Dwayne Johnson and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

With the Darko venture, McKittrick said, “Our goal is to get behind filmmakers with unique voices and take advantage of the Darko brand to help independent films reach a much wider audience.”

While “Darko,” a smash at Sundance, never became a “Little Miss Sunshine”-scale hit, the enigmatic film developed a sizable cult following. Stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore and Seth Rogen have helped drive DVD sales.

CAA and the Firm rep Kelly and McKittrick.

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