IM Global Gearing Up With Mid-Budget Films

At a time when the six major studios continue to focus most of their attention on blockbusters, IM Global’s production and financing unit is gearing up to fill the gap for mid-budget films.

Stuart Ford’s 8-year-old banner is now producing and financing five to seven films annually, ranging from micro-budgeted, specialty genre to commercial features. The current slate includes the recently completed “The Secret in Their Eyes,” starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, and two projects in mid-production: “The Free State of Jones,” directed by Gary Ross and starring Matthew McConaughey and Keri Russell, plus “Silence,” from Martin Scorsese and starring Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson.

Robert Simonds’ newly minted STX Entertainment has acquired “Secret” for an Oct. 23 awards season release, and “Free State” for a March 11 release. Paramount hasn’t dated “Silence” yet.

“When I came on in the fall of 2013, Stuart and I talked a lot about the diversification of the slate and creating more of an atmosphere for filmmakers,” says production president Matt Jackson. “We are still driven by foreign sales, but we’re trying to balance that with selling films domestically.”

During the Berlin Intl. Film Festival, the Weinstein Co. came onboard IM Global’s “The Man Who Made It Snow,” with Antoine Fuqua directing Jake Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal’s mother, screenwriter Naomi Foner, is rewriting the script with plans for a shoot early next year. It’s the first movie to emerge from Fuqua Films’ overall relationship with IM Global.

Fuqua Films and IM Global are developing “We Do Not Forget” with Daniel Radcliffe in the lead and Zach Helm directing for a fall start.

“We definitely want to be in the volume business,” Jackson says. “Stuart wanted to move the company into international diversity, where he’s already done a great job of building the reputation and the brand. He understands how important content is on an international basis.”

IM Global remains active in the genre space. Relativity will release its action-thriller “Autobahn” with Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones in October; Universal plans a first-quarter release for the supernatural thriller “Incarnate,” starring Aaron Eckhart and produced by Blumhouse Prods. with IM Global; and Dimension has a first-quarter release set for thriller “Viral,” starring Analeigh Tipton, Sofia D’Elia Black, Machine Gun Kelly, Travis Tope and Michael Kelly.

It’s also in pre-production on a pair of thrillers based on true events: “Manhunt,” directed by Michael Cuesta (“Homeland”) and produced by Michael Shamberg, Scott Lambert, Alexandra Milchan and Stacey Sher, with the story centering on the FBI enlisting a bear hunter to help track down a domestic terrorist in the North Carolina wilderness; and “One Minute to Midnight,” to be directed by George Nolfi (“The Adjustment Bureau”) and produced by John Davis, based on how a U.S. U2 plane got lost in Russian airspace during the most heated moments of the Cuban missile crisis and almost initiated World War III.

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