Axelsson in talks to helm ‘The Key Man’

Open Road to distribute QED and Safehouse thriller

Icelandic helmer Oskar Thor Axelsson (“Black’s Game”) is in final negotiations to direct Open Road Films’ thriller “The Key Man,” which financier QED International is producing with Safehouse Pictures.

Written by Joby Harold (“All You Need Is Kill”), the story follows a single father and puzzle editor who finds himself targeted by the U.S. government because his body holds clues that are key to uncovering important national secrets.

QED’s Bill Block and Paul Hanson are producing with Harold and his Safehouse Pictures partner Tory Tunnell.

Open Road acquired U.S. rights to the pic last July, a month before Brian De Palma signed on to direct. He’s no longer involved with the project, though Open Road remains committed to a wide release with a significant P&A spend.

Axelsson is a veteran cinematographer who previously wrote and directed the short films “Nylon,” “Traveler” and “Misty Mountain” before making his feature helming debut earlier this year with the Icelandic crime pic “Black’s Game.” Helmer is a protege of “Drive” director Nicolas Winding Refn, who exec produced “Black’s Game.”

Open Road’s upcoming releases include David Ayer’s “End of Watch,” Dan Bradley’s Red Dawn” and the comedy “Hit and Run,” which opens Aug. 22. QED Intl. recently produced Rob Cohen’s “Alex Cross” and Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi epic “Elysium.”

Axelsson is repped by WME, Principato-Young Entertainment and attorney Robert S. Wallerstein.