James D’Arcy, Laura Harrier and Mena Massoud are starring in the independent science-fiction drama “Warning,” to be shot in Romania.
Agata Alexander will be directing based on an original screenplay she wrote with Rob Michaelson and Jason Kaye. Cybill Lui of Anova Pictures will produce the project and is setting a winter start date in Romania.
Brian O’Shea’s The Exchange has acquired the international sales rights and will introduce the project to foreign buyers during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. ICM Partners is handling North America.
The story is in the style of Netflix’s “Black Mirror” sci-fi anthology series and explores loneliness, death and the meaning of life when vastly disparate lives collide in interweaving stories set in a near future Earth.
Alexander, who is making her feature film debut, has worked with artists such as Marilyn Manson, Skrillex and Diplo. Clint Mansell will arrange the film score.
“Agata is hands down one of the most unique and exciting emerging filmmakers of today,” Lui said. “She’s cool, she’s bold, she’s hilarious and tells it like it is, sliced with a twist of irony. We’ve assembled an incredible ensemble cast and are ready for the ride Agata’s about to take us on.”
Nat McCormick, exec VP of worldwide sales for The Exchange, told Variety that initial buyer response to “Warning” has been strong — partly due to the comparison with the world of “Black Mirror.”
“Television is taking up a lot more shelf space and the quality programs have really raised the bar for films,” he added. “It underlines the fact that movie projects have to be of higher quality because the quality is so high.”
For McCormick, a pair of disparate releases have shown that movies can still succeed in the current marketplace: John Krasinski’s horror hit “A Quiet Place” (which grossed $330 million worldwide) and Morgan Neville’s documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (the 12th highest domestic grosser among docs).
“What you have with those two movies is a real resounding quality which really stands out, much like a successful Broadway play,” McCormick said.
The executive also said that TIFF has become a key stop in terms of offering international buyers viable titles prior to the American Film Market, which launches its 38th edition on Oct. 31 to Nov. 7 at the Loews Santa Monica Hotel.
“When you’re offering a project like this at Toronto, it shows that you’re not just going through the motions,” McCormick. “Saying that it’s in the vein of ‘Black Mirror’ in a very technologically advanced world has a real resonance among buyers. We started talking with Cybill six months ago and she’s emphasized that the movie is going to be highly stylized.”
D’Arcy’s credits include Showtime’s “Homeland” and Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” Harrier starred in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Massoud is playing Aladdin in Disney’s live-action remake of the animated classic.
Alexander and Michaelson are repped by Derrick Eppich. D’Arcy is repped by WME, Management 360 and Markham, Froggatt and Irwin. Harrier and Massoud are repped by ICM.