Neil Burger to the ‘Rescue’ for Searchlight

Peter Chernin also producing homegrown project

Fox Searchlight is getting another homegrown project on track, tapping “Limitless” helmer Neil Burger to direct a feature adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s short story “Animal Rescue,” which the shingle will produce with Chernin Entertainment.

Lehane-scripted crime drama follows a man trying to leave a life of crime, a pit bull, a heist gone wrong, and a killing. Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark are producing with Mike Larocca (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”).

Of the six films Fox Searchlight will release this year, the company produced half: “Ruby Sparks,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Lola Versus.” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon” and “Six Sessions” were acquisitions with high upside.

Searchlight — which has had success with in-house productions such as “Juno,” “Black Swan” and “The Descendants” — has wrapped production on homegrown projects “Hitchcock” and “Stoker.”

Burger is coming off the surprise success of Relativity Media’s modestly-budgeted sleeper hit “Limitless,” which grossed $161 million worldwide. Prior to that, he directed “The Illusionist,” a low-budget period pic that grossed $87 million worldwide. Helmer is also attached to direct a feature adaptation of popular videogame “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune,” which is currently in development at Sony and Atlas Entertainment.

Lehane is the Boston-based author best known for writing the novels “Mystic River,” “Gone Baby Gone” and “Shutter Island.” He exec produced Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the latter tome, which grossed nearly $300 million worldwide.

Chernin Entertainment is currently prepping Paul Feig’s untitled buddy cop pic starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, as well as the Rupert Wyatt-directed sequel “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

Burger is repped by CAA, while IPG reps Lehane.

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