Velvet 'Stakes' thriller

Simon Crowe’s finance/sales entity Velvet Octopus has signed a deal to finance action thriller “High Stakes,” with David R. Ellis (“Snakes on a Plane”) attached to direct.

The $30 million project will be produced by Matthew Rhodes and Judd Payne of Persistent Entertainment and Keri Selig’s Intuition Prods. Tawny Ellis Lehman, David R. Ellis’ producing partner, will co-produce.

Currently casting, the movie’s set to shoot in the spring. Script by Ronnie Christensen (“Passengers”) centers on two friends who get in over their heads on a gambling trip to Las Vegas and become the subjects of a deadly high-stakes bet.

Velvet Octopus exec Damon Lane brought the project in to Crowe. Rhodes, Payne and Selig partnered on producing “Passengers” for Mandate/Sony, with Rodrigo Garcia directing and Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson starring.

Matthew Joynes and Jason Piette of Velvet Octopus have put together the financing from a number of sources, including the company’s own.

Persistent is preparing Cannes Film Festival official selection “Southland Tales” for release later this year, as well “Walker Payne” and “Freshman Orientation.” It’s in post-production on “The Beautiful Ordinary.”

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