First-time feature helmer will also star in film

Mark Ruffalo will make his feature directing debut on “Sympathy for Delicious.”

Ruffalo will star with James Franco and Chris Thornton. Production begins this fall in Los Angeles, and the pic is fully financed by new company Corner Store Entertainment.

Thornton, who wrote the script, plays “Delicious” Dean O’Dwyer, a paralyzed DJ struggling to survive in his wheelchair on the streets of L.A. He turns to faith-healing and mysteriously acquires the ability to cure the sick — although not himself. Ruffalo plays a Jesuit priest who tries to help him come to terms with the limits of his gift, and Franco a rock singer in a band that exploits the suddenly famous healer.

Pic will be produced by Andrea Sperling, Matthew Weaver, Scott Prisand, Ruffalo and Thornton, with Robert Stein and Joanne Jacobson exec producers.

The film is being financed by Corner Store Entertainment, a venture of Weaver and Prisand, who’ve quietly financed two other pics over the past several months and raised the coin to bankroll a slate of moderately priced films over the next three years.

Weaver, son of former Paramount marketing exec Gordon Weaver, has credits that include “The Heartbreak Kid” remake, the doc “Surfwise” and “Pretty Persuasion.” Prisand has produced several stage musicals, including “Legally Blonde.” Longtime friends, they teamed after each became frustrated developing projects within the studio system. The partners first made a three-pic deal with Nic and Tristan Puehse, the 10-year-old twin skateboarding stars. Production on “Nic & Tristan: The Movie” is complete, and Corner Store has the right to make two more movies with the kids. Goal is to create a family franchise, mostly likely on the smallscreen.

Corner Store Entertainment first completed theatrical feature is “Barry Munday,” which it co-financed with Stick ‘N Stone Prods. partners Mickey Barold and Stone Douglass. Based on the novel “Life Is a Strange Place,” the romantic comedy was written and directed by Chris D’Arienzo, with Patrick Wilson starring as a thirtysomething womanizer. After being attacked by the father of one of his conquests, he loses his testicles and awakens to discover he’s been hit with a paternity suit by another woman he can’t even remember. Pic has completed production and will seek distribution through the festival route.

Corner Stores has opened an office in New York that will be run by Jennifer Maloney, producer of “Spring Awakening.”

“Corner Store has the ability to move quickly and provide much-needed equity financing that can greenlight independent movies,” Prisand said. “Our endgame is to sell each movie and create a library for our investors of at least seven to 10 properties.”

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