Sierra sinks teeth into Toronto

Shingle preems two pics at fest, readies 'Shark'

While it has two films premiering at the Toronto Film Festival, Nick Meyer and Marc Schaberg’s Sierra Pictures also is getting ready to sink its teeth into “Shark Night 3D,” its first pic with Incentive Filmed Entertainment.

Meyer and Schaberg knew from the outset that Sierra couldn’t just rely on foreign sales to make a go of it. Launched a year ago, Sierra has struck several strategic partnerships to establish itself as a three-pronged venture involved in film financing, production and sales.

Sierra is the exclusive agent for all titles from Incentive Filmed Entertainment; it also sells and services all Sidney Kimmel titles. Most recently, Sierra and Brett Ratner launched White Knuckle Pictures with an eye to financing and producing mid-budget actioners and thrillers.

“We’ve distinguished ourselves by the business we’ve built and our ability to bring capital to projects. That’s a big distinction, and a huge piece of who we are,” Meyer said.

The first pic from Sierra and Incentive is “Shark Night 3D,” which David R. Ellis begins shooting this month in Shreveport, La. Sierra began selling “Shark Night” during Cannes and has inked deals with Entertainment Distribution in the U.K. and Metropolitan in France.

“Shark Night” stars Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan and Katharine McPhee. Ellis (“The Final Destination 3D”) will lense from a script by Jesse Studenberg and Will Hayes. Chris Carmack, Alyssa Diaz, Joel David Moore and Sinqua Walls will also star.

On its own, Sierra is developing “Layover” for John Singleton to direct and produce. Based on a script by Jay Longino and Michael Browning, story centers on an ex-con whose family is kidnapped by a group of corrupt TSA agents while on a layover. Meyer is also a producer, while Bernie Cahill will exec produce.

On the foreign sales side, Sierra’s slate includes docu “Catfish,” which Universal and Relativity open in theaters Sept. 17, and Bruce Willis thriller “Catch .44,” also starring Malin Akerman, Nikki Reed, Deborah Ann Woll and Forest Whitaker. “Catch .44” is about three female assassins sent on a risky job.

Sierra will be pre-selling “Catch .44,” directed by Aaron Harvey, at Toronto, along with finished films “Passion Play” and “Beginner’s Guide.”

A fest special presentation, “Passion Play” was written and directed by Mitch Glazer and toplines Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox and Bill Murray. “Beginner’s Guide,” a gala presentation, was written and directed by Jonathan Sobol and stars Harvey Keitel, Scott Caan and J.K. Simmons.

Sierra is jointly handling foreign sales on several titles with Lakeshore Entertainment, including Matthew McConaughey topliner “Lincoln Lawyer” and Katherine Heigl “One for the Money” (both titles were sold at Cannes), as well as “Adaline,” which Heigl is attached to star in.

Meyer, formerly prexy of Lionsgate Intl. and co-prexy of Paramount Vantage, is prexy-CEO of Sierra. Schaberg, formerly with Element Films, where he was a founding partner, is Sierra’s chief operating officer-chief financial officer.

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