Lionsgate snags ‘Last Exorcism’

Horror pic produced by Eli Roth, StudioCanal, Strike

Lionsgate has grabbed U.S. distribution rights to “The Last Exorcism,” a verite-style horror pic produced by Strike Entertainment, StudioCanal and genre maven Eli Roth.

Deal is said to include a high-six-figure advance and a $16 million P&A commitment.

Helmed by German director and AFI grad Daniel Stamm, pic was originally titled “Cotton” and stars Patrick Fabian as a troubled evangelical minister who allows his final exorcism to be filmed by a documentary crew.

“Mail Order Wife” helmers Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland scripted.

Project, which shot in Louisiana, has had horror fan websites salivating for months at the prospect of a scary shaky-cam film shepherded by “Hostel” helmer Roth.

Producers Eric Newman, Marc Abraham, Tom Bliss and Roth showed the pic to buyers in mid-January, drawing offers from nearly every major and mini-major. Lionsgate was presumed to be a front-runner for “Exorcism” from the get-go, given the label is a horror haven and released Roth’s first feature, “Cabin Fever,” as well as the “Hostel” films.

“It’s always great to work with our friend Eli, who has played a key role in establishing Lionsgate in the vanguard of the horror genre,” said Jason Constantine, Lionsgate’s prexy of acquisitions and co-productions. “?’The Last Exorcism’ feels as close to a real exorcism as anyone would ever want to get — audiences are going to find this movie scary as, well, hell.”

StudioCanal fully financed “Exorcism” and is handling foreign sales. The Paris-based company will funnel the pic through its affiliate distrib ops in France, Germany and the U.K., and has sold it in other territories including Spain, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Poland.

Continuing its drive into genre fare, the French studio, meanwhile, has again teamed with Strike and Roth on psychological thriller “The Other Woman.” Pic will be helmed by Botko and Gurland, who are currently writing the screenplay. “Woman,” about a scorned mistress who makes a film for her ex-lover, is set to shoot in late spring. Roth said the pic will delve into “the worst nightmares of those who have had extramarital affairs, and the sickest fantasies of those who have been scorned.” StudioCanal is presenting the pic to buyers at Berlin’s EFM mart this week.

Stamm’s first feature, “A Necessary Death,” bowed at SXSW in 2008 and won the audience award at AFI Fest that year. “Exorcism” is skedded to premiere at SXSW next month.

(John Hopewell contributed to this report.)

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