Thriller will be musicvid director Courtes' feature debut

Los Angeles-based producer Roy Lee is teaming with France’s SND-M6 Group and WY Prods. to produce English-language suspense-thriller “The Incident.”

“Incident” is helmed by France’s Alexandre Courtes, a graphic designer and musicvid director with Daft Punk, U2 and Kasabian.

Courtes’ directorial debut turns on three rock band members who work in a high-security asylum — until a freak storm blows the asylum’s security system, unleashing its criminal patients and trapping the rockers.

“We’re aiming for an upscale, distinctive genre movie, like ‘The Descent’ or ‘REC,’?” said Lionel Uzan, SND-M6′s director of acquisitions and international sales.

Lee originally set the pic up at Lionsgate when he co-headed Vertigo Entertainment. “Incident” is now financed out of France and Belgium at €3 million ($4.1 million), Uzan said.

An Asian remake specialist, Lee (“The Ring,” “The Grudge”) will produce with Wassim Beji at WY, a subsid of France’s Bollore Media group. Direct Cinema has prebought French free-to-air rights.

Screenplay is by American Craig Zahler and Courtes. The pic started shooting in Brussels in January. SND will show early excerpts at Berlin.

Part of the M6 broadcast network group, and a minority shareholder in Summit Entertainment, SND is distributing “Incident” in France as well as handling international sales.

“Incident” is SND’s third English-language pic after 2010′s “Territories” and mystery thriller “The Tall Man,” now in post.

“Generally speaking, we’re looking for French directors able to do commercial movies with international appeal, plus theatrically driven arthouse movies,” Uzan said.

“Tall Man,” another U.S.-France talent blender, stars Jessica Biel as a small-town nurse whose son is abducted.

France’s Pascal Laugier (“Martyrs”) helms. The pic, budgeted at just over $15 million, is produced by SND, Clement Miserez’s Radar Films and, from Canada, Kevin DeWalt’s Minds Eye Entertainment in association with Steven Schneider’s Room 101.

SND has French distribution rights on “Man.” It has pre-sold to Germany (Wild Bunch), Russia (MGN Paradise) and Spain (Antena 3 Films/DeAPlaneta) among key territories, plus Poland (Vision Film) and the Czech Republic (Hollywood Classic Entertainment) in Eastern Europe.

Portugal, Middle East, Taiwan and Indonesia-Malaysia have also closed. Alliance distributes in Canada. SBD will show first footage at Berlin.

Also building buzz is “Service Entrance,” a comedy-romance from France’s Philippe Le Guay, on which SND has licensed Australia (Palace), Benelux (Victory), Switzerland (Praesens-Film), Canada (Christal), Poland (Best Film Co.) and Portugal (Lusomundo).

“There’s a select overseas market for comedies, especially when they’re feel-good theatrical titles,” Uzan said.

Fest berths are also growing: “Entrance” plays out of competition at Berlin.

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