×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Slender Man’ Being Shopped to Other Studios as Sony, Producers Clash (EXCLUSIVE)

Slender Man” is being quietly shopped around Hollywood, Variety has learned.

Distribution rights for the upcoming horror movie are on the block because the film’s producers are having heated disagreements about the release strategy with Sony Pictures, the studio that is supposed to debut the film in August. Sony sees the film as a low-budget, Blumhouse-style release, according to two insiders, while the producers, a group that includes William Sherak and James Vanderbilt, have more confidence in the movie. The are pushing for the picture to unspool across more screens and also want a bigger marketing push, which will cost more money than Sony is willing to spend.

The producers have triggered a clause in their contract that allows them to solicit higher offers. They’ve shown the film to several studios including Netflix and Amazon, but some companies that have seen the nearly completed picture are skeptical about its commercial potential.

It is extremely rare for a film to be shopped to other studios so close to its scheduled release. Sony has already debuted a trailer for the film,  and unveiled posters, and promotional images. Presumably whoever buys the film would have to pay the studio back for any expenses it incurred.

Sony’s Steve Bersch, the head of the Screen Gems division overseeing “Slender Man,” is a fan of the picture and wants to release it, according to another insider, but the studio’s brass is concerned about social media backlash. The title character, a viral boogeyman created in 2009 as part of an online contest, allegedly inspired two 12-year-olds to stab their friend Payton Leutner 19 times. Leutner survived, and the girls were institutionalized.

Bill Weier, the father of one of the two girls who stabbed Leutner, has criticized the film as “extremely distasteful” and has said it is “popularizing a tragedy.” Some movie theaters close to where the stabbing took place in Wisconsin have said they will not show the film. An online petition calling on the studio to pull the film from release has attracted more than 19,000 signatures.

There are concerns at Sony that the blowback will intensify as the release date approaches even though “Slender Man’s” plot is fictional and doesn’t reference the real-life stabbing. That may be factoring into some of the release strategy disagreements, insiders say.

If the producers cannot find another studio, Sony may move forward with its Aug. 24 release date. “Slender Man” is directed by Sylvain White and stars Joey King, Jaz Sinclair, and Julia Goldani Telles.

More Film

  • First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’

    First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’ Feature Documentary

    Diego Maradona waves to raucous Napoli fans before heading into a media scrum and press conference in the first clip from the feature documentary about the soccer superstar. “Diego Maradona” is the third film from the team behind the award-winning “Senna” and “Amy,” with Asif Kapadia directing and James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin producing. They [...]

  • Raising Hell: The Life and Times

    Film Review: 'Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins'

    One of the more entertaining as well as insightful political commentators of the past half-century is paid a suitably entertaining tribute in “Raise Hell.” A long tall Texan too amusingly outrageous to draw real resentment from most of her targets, Molly Ivins nonetheless aimed stinging criticism at political figures both national and in her native [...]

  • The Lighthouse

    Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Unveils Lineup

    Robert Eggers’ anticipated “The Lighthouse” with Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, Luca Guadagnino’s medium-length film “The Staggering Girl” and Japanese helmer Takashi Miike’s “First Love” are set to unspool at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight under the new leadership of Paolo Moretti. Described by Moretti as a “hypnotic two-hander” powered by Pattinson and Dafoe, “The Lighthouse” is [...]

  • Media Luna Acquires ‘We Had It

    Cannes Festival: Media Luna Takes ‘We Had It Coming,’ ‘The Friendly Man’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    In the run-up to next month’s Cannes Festival, Cologne-based Media Luna New Films has acquired international rights to “We Had It Coming,” starring Natalie Krill (“Wynonna Earp,” “Below Her Mouth”) and Brazil’s “The Friendly Man,” one of the standouts at Ventana Sur’s strong Copia Final showcase of near-finished Latin American movies. MK2 Mile End will [...]

  • ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Stars Make Emotional Speeches

    ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Stars Make Emotional Speeches at Historic Marvel Premiere

    If more than twenty worldwide blockbusters over ten years sounds like a big undertaking, try locking up the cell phones and smartwatches of Hollywood’s most important people for four hours. Only a franchise with the cache of the “Avengers” series could have A-list talent, celebrity fans, agents and executives gladly turn over their gadgets for [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' First Reactions: 'Most Emotional, Most Epic MCU Film'

    The end is finally here. “Avengers: Endgame” had its world premiere Monday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center and reactions on social media from fans, journalists and critics are already pouring in. The reaction has so far been almost universally positive, with several commentors warning fans of the movie’s emotional elements. Brandon Davis wrote [...]

  • Josh Brolin, Kathryn Boyd. Josh Brolin,

    'Avengers: Endgame's' Josh Brolin: Thanos' Butt Is a 'Beautiful, Purple Peach'

    On the eve of “Avengers: Endgame’s” world premiere, everyone’s thoughts have turned to the one crucial detail that could be the difference between life or death for the Avengers: Does Thanos have a butt? “I don’t know what that whole thing is about! I really don’t!” Josh Brolin, who plays Thanos, told Variety‘s Marc Malkin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content