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‘Darko’ victory for Gaylord

'Memento' company buys Kelly's ensemble debut

CANNES — Gaylord Films continues to operate at a rapid-fire pace, with a seven-figure sale of the Sundance Film Festival premiere “Donnie Darko” to Newmarket Films and a ramped-up development slate that includes projects with Julianne Moore, Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey.

Moore is attached to star in an adaptation of the 1997 Etta Schiber book “Paris Underground,” based on the true story of two women, an American and a Brit, who were roommates in Paris when Germany invaded the city during WWII. The women became involved in the underground movement of transporting stranded English soldiers out of occupied France and back to England to rejoin the war effort.

“Donnie Darko,” which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore and Noah Wyle, is the feature writing-directing debut of Richard Kelly. Set in the late 1980s, pic is the story of 16-year-old Donnie Darko, who is influenced by strange visions that include a giant menacing rabbit. Barrymore’s Flower Films produced the pic with Gaylord.

“Darko” was the most hotly anticipated title going into Sundance. After its screening, however, viewers felt the ambitious film augured a strong career for Kelly but was too long. The producers, who were repped by CAA’s Adam Krentzman and Kevin Iwashina, have trimmed the pic by some 10 minutes. Pic was acquired by Newmarket’s Chris Ball, Will Tyrer and Aaron Ryder. Newmarket currently has “Memento” in theaters.