Vertical Entertainment has secured U.S. rights to Nathan Morlando’s coming-of-age thriller “Mean Dreams,” starring Bill Paxton, Colm Feore, Sophie Nélisse, and Josh Wiggins.

Vertical closed the deal on Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival, four days before the film plays as a Special Presentation. Nélisse was selected by the festival to be part of its Rising Stars program.

The film will be released in theaters day-and-date with a VOD release in the first quarter.

Wiggins portrays a courageous local farm boy while Nélisse plays the girl next door. Paxton portrays her abusive father, a corrupt local cop. As young love blossoms between the two 15-year-olds, Wiggins’ character steals a bag full of drug money from the father and flees with Nélisse’s character — with both pursued by her father.

“Nathan Morlando has an extremely visual approach to filmmaking, and even with such a strong story-driven narrative, we really were able to take time to appreciate his technique,” said Vertical Co-President Rich Goldberg.

“We are thrilled to cap our festival invitations to the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Toronto, and Deauville with a 10-city theatrical release in the U.S.,” said producers William Woods and Allison Black.

Morlando directs from a script by Kevin Coughlin and Ryan Grassby. Executive producers are Rob McGillivray, Patrice Theroux, Jonathan Bronfman, André Bharti, Ben Stranahan, Tom Spriggs, and Mark Gingras.

The production companies were Woods Entertainment and Euclid431 Pictures with Tip-Top Productions, Sugar Shack Productions, JoBro Productions & Film Finance, Project AMB, The Coronel Group, Vigilante Productions, and Scythia Films; with the financial participation from Telefilm Canada, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

The deal was negotiated by Rich Goldberg and Peter Jarowey at Vertical, and UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers.