Lionsgate is hatching a thriller set in the world of social media.
The mini-major has acquired “Black Swan” scribe Mark Heyman’s spec “XOXO,” an elevated genre tale set in the world of Facebook, where things aren’t always as they seem.
While all the studios have embraced social media for marketing, some films have also centered on this burgeoning arena. Last year, Sony found worldwide B.O. success with Facebook founder bio “The Social Network,” and “Catfish” centered on a relationship that starts on MySpace.
Darren Aronofsky and Michael London (“Sideways”) will produce “XOXO” through their respective shingles Protozoa Pictures and Groundswell Prods., whose Kelly Mullen brought in the project and will also be involved in a producing capacity.
Described as “Fatal Attraction” for the digital age, story follows an on-the-rise exec who’s engaged to be married but enjoys flirting online. He meets an alluring woman on Facebook and the two begin a virtual relationship, but the protag soon discovers that his Internet romance is seeping into his actual life in a deadly way.
Like Lionsgate’s 2005 thriller “Hard Candy,” “XOXO” explores misleading digital identities, and it will make use of streaming video and other social-media platforms. These online interactions will be made more cinematic by employing stylized visual sequences, though no director has been brought onboard yet.
Lionsgate heads of production Alli Shearmur and Mike Paseornek will spearhead the upscale thriller for the studio.
Heyman is Aronofsky’s producing partner and was nominated for a WGA Award for co-writing Aronofsky’s Fox Searchlight pic “Black Swan” with Andres Heinz and John J. McLaughlin. Pic grossed $329 million worldwide en route to five Oscar nominations.
Heyman and Aronofsky are currently developing sci-fi tale “Machine Man” for Mandalay Pictures, and he has also written “Age of Rage” for Fox Searchlight and director Marc Webb.
CAA reps both Aronofsky and Heyman, who is also repped by Management 360.