European powerhouse Leonine has snapped up rights for German-speaking Europe, Variety can reveal. It’s believed there’s been strong interest on the continent, and that a number of U.S. distributors are also circling the film, which was shopped to buyers this past week.
Principal cast includes Demi Moore, Craig Robinson, Paul Walter Hauser and Peter Stormare. ICM Partners and Endeavor Content are handling worldwide sales.
Produced by Adam Goodman and Andrew Sugerman’s Invisible Narratives in partnership with Bay and Catchlight Studios, “Songbird” is set two years in the future, where a pandemic rages on, continuing to mutate and wreak havoc around the world. The film — which has been likened to a hybrid between “Paranormal Activity” and “Cloverfield” — is focused on an essential worker who is immune to the virus, working as a delivery driver traveling constantly across an unspecified city, which is divided along class lines. Forced to be apart from his girlfriend, who is in lockdown, he must overcome a powerful family, helmed by Moore’s character, to reunite with his partner.
The film marks the second major Cannes-sold project to be picked up by KKR-backed major Leonine, which was formed in 2019 through the merger of Tele München Group, Universum Film, i&u TV, and Wiedemann & Berg Film. The studio also swooped for STX International’s Chris Pine-starring thriller “Violence of Action” at the start of the market.
“Songbird,” which is directed by “Into the Dark” helmer Adam Mason, will be among the first to shoot in Los Angeles following lockdown, as it looks to use innovative filming techniques and strict social distancing practices. Filmmakers are believed to be providing remote training for the actors.
The film also slots into a steady run of pandemic-themed projects now coming to the fore. On Saturday, “Bombshell” and “The Big Short” writer Charles Randolph was announced as directing a movie about the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in China for SK Global. Meanwhile, last week, Michael Winterbottom was revealed to have signed on to write and direct a series on U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s muddled response to the pandemic.
Given its ambitious production plans, “Songbird” may be first out the gate. The project hails from former Paramount production chief Goodman and former Disney exec Sugerman’s Invisible Narratives and Bay.
Director Mason co-wrote the script with Simon Boyes (“Misconduct”). Bay is producing alongside Goodman and Eben Davidson of Invisible Narratives, which is partnered on the project with Catchlight Studios and founders Jeanette Volturno, former head of production at Blumhouse, and Jason Clark, former boss of Seth MacFarlane’s production company Fuzzy Door, as well as Marcei Brown, Jessica Malanaphy and Rick A. Osako.
Mason is repped by 3 Arts and ICM Partners, while Bay is represented by WME.
Cinematographer Jacques Jouffret (“The Purge”), a longtime Bay associate who has worked across the “Transformers” franchise, is shooting the film, with production designer Jennifer Spence (“Paranormal Activity” and “Annabelle” franchises), and Nancy Nayor casting.