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‘Strangers’ calling at U

Major career change for former grip Bertino

HOLLYWOOD — Universal Pictures has acquired tyro scribe Bryan Bertino’s horror spec script “The Strangers” as the first project Roy Lee and Doug Davison will produce at the studio under their just-arrived Vertigo Entertainment banner.

Duo just saw their horror project “The Grudge” top $100 million domestically. Lee and Davison will produce for Vertigo, with Senator Films also producing.

While financial details were not disclosed, deal also marks a major career change for Bertino, 27, who until very recently made his living pulling cable as a grip.

“A month ago my car broke down and I had to borrow money from friends to get to work,” Bertino said. “Up to now I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck.”

“The Strangers” tells the story of three mysterious strangers who terrorize a young couple in a remote house after they return from a wedding.

U’s production execs Damien Saccani and Drew Crevello are overseeing the project for the studio. Michael Connolly of Mad Hatter Films will also produce. Sonny Mallhi, Vertigo’s vice president of development, brought the project in.

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