Distrib in talks to acquire pic written by 'Twilight' author

Open Road Films is in talks to acquire domestic rights to Stephenie Meyer’s pic “The Host,” one of the hot titles at this year’s Cannes market.

The newly minted distribution company had no comment. A source not authorized to speak about the transaction characterized the talks as “serious negotiations.”

Pic, from “The Twilight Saga” scribe and toplining Saoirse Ronan, was pre-sold by Inferno Entertainment to most foreign markets last month at Cannes. It went to Entertainment Film Distributors in Blighty, Metropolitan Filmexport in France, DeAPlaneta in Spain and TeleMunchen for Germany and Switzerland.

Pic’s helmed by Andrew Niccol (who also adapted the screenplay of Meyer’s tome), is produced by Paula Mae Schwartz, Steve Schwartz, Nick Wechsler and Meyer while Inferno’s Marc Butan, Jim Seibel and Bill Johnson are exec-producers. Roger Schwartz serves as co-producer.

“The Host” is eyeing a January start date. “The Host,” published in 2008, revolves around the takeover of Earth by an alien race known as Souls.

Negotiations for the domestic sale for “The Host” are being handled by Rena Ronson of UTA’s Independent Film Group, which is co-repping domestic rights with CAA.

Open Road Films announced earlier this month that it had selected a Sept. 23 berth for Omnilab Media’s action thriller “Killer Elite,” starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro. Directed by Gary McKendry, “Killer Elite” will go out nationwide supported by a reported $25 million-plus P&A fund (Daily Variety, May 11).

Open Road was founded as a joint venture in March by AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment Group with Tom Ortenberg as CEO. Distrib, which announced its acquisition of “Killer Elite” in Cannes, will pursue mid-range-budgeted pics pegged for nationwide rollouts.

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