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Will Smith’s Telepool, Kodiak Pictures Invest in Genre Slate at Eric B. Fleischman’s Defiant

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s international distribution company Telepool is investing in a genre slate from indie producer Eric B. Fleischman, along with Maurice Fadida’s Kodiak Pictures, Variety has learned exclusively.

Fleischman was a Sundance Film Festival breakout star in 2016, when at age 26, he made a strong showing with “Sleight” and “Carnage Park.” His company, Defiant Studios, will receive a cash infusion for several horror-thrillers, beginning with the film “Phobias,” which is currently in production.

The Smiths acquired Telepool in late June, with Marc Forster and his shop Elysian Fields. This marks the first significant investment and U.S. expansion for Telepool, a standalone theatrical and multi-platform distribution entity with a big presence in Europe. Kodiak is a producer on David Ayer’s upcoming “The Tax Collector,” starring Shia LaBeouf, as well as Gerard Butler’s “Keepers.”

Defiant’s slate is currently unknown, though “Phobias” is an ambitious horror anthology from the filmmakers behind the similar “V/H/S” series. It follows five patients with extreme fears who undergo testing at a government facility under the care of a maniacal doctor. Lauren Miller Rogen (“For a Good Time Call”), Ross Partridge (“Stranger Things”), singer Macy Gray, Hana Mae Lee (“Pitch Perfect” series), Leonardo Nam (“Westworld”), and Martina Garcia (“Narcos”) lead the cast.

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The film counts five writer-directors behind each phobia: Maritte Go (“Remittance”), Camilla Belle (“When a Stranger Calls”), Jessica Varley (“Kat”), Joe Sill (“Stray”), and Chris von Hoffmann (“Monster Party”).

Tyler Gillett, Chad Villella, and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin from the Radio Silence Collective are on board as executive producers, alongside Kodiak partners Maurice Fadida, Mickey Gooch Jr., and D.G. Guyer. Telepool CEO André Druskeit also serves as EP.

“This is our third production with Defiant and we are very excited to continue supporting one of Hollywood’s brightest young producers while we continue to produce and finance films with established stars,” Fadida said in a statement.

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