Lion’s Gate to fund ‘Psycho’

Canadian indie takes on Ellis's thriller

Producer Ed Pressman’s long-cherished screen adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial novel “American Psycho” has finally found a financial backer: Lions Gate Films.

The Canadian-owned indie announced Monday that it would fully finance the $10 million pic in exchange for worldwide distribution rights.

“Psycho” will be the second feature to be directed by Mary Harron (“I Shot Andy Warhol”).

Pic has Pressman, Muse Prods.’ Chris Hanley, Quadra Entertainment’s Christian Halsey Solomon and Ron Rotholz attached to produce.

Various actors have circled the script in the past few months, including Christian Bale, Jared Leto and Willem Dafoe. But sources said there were no signed deals to date.

Lions Gate president Jeff Sackman and prexy of production Mike Paseornek will exec produce. The execs hope to get the pic into production by the end of the summer.

Lions Gate will distribute the film itself in North America, while Lions Gate Films International, headed by Joe Drake, will handle foreign sales.

In “Psycho,” Patrick Bateman, a power-crazed Wall Street banker, turns to committing acts of hideous violence, both as an intellectual exploration and an emotional release.

According to sources, the novel’s six-year journey to the screen is partly due to its literary complexity, which made any screen adaptation a tremendous challenge.

The current screenplay, the one that enticed Lions Gate into the lair, was written by Guinevere Turner (“Go Fish”) and Harron.

Pressman has a production deal with Quadra and four overseas distribs to handle five films per annum in the $25 million to $40 million range. “Psycho” was originally slated to be made under that deal, but was extracted when Lions Gate came up with its worldwide offer.

Drake denied that “Psycho” was a project with little international appeal. “A lot of foreign buyers love the book,” he claimed. “This will be a smart film, a satire of the 1980s. It’ll be both horrifying and funny at the same time.”

Lions Gate Films is a subsidiary of Lions Gate Entertainment, a Toronto-based entertainment conglom that also has an interest, via its LG Pictures subsid, in Peter Guber’s Mandalay Pictures.

Lions Gate Films has made a string of acquisitions since its formation out of Cinepix Film Properties last year, including Paul Schrader’s “Affliction,” which it picked up last month.

But “Psycho” represents the company’s greatest stride into prominent indie filmmaking, and boasts one of its largest production budgets.

Turner has also acted in several films, including “Go Fish,” “Chasing Amy,” “Kiss Me Guido” and “Latin Boys Go To Hell.”

Pressman’s credits include “Reversal of Fortune,” “The Crow,” “Wall Street,” “Badlands” and “Judge Dredd.”