Sentient Pictures International (SPI) has greenlit two action thrillers for its slate at the Cannes market: Sombra with Juan Pablo Raba (Peppermint, “Narcos”, upcoming Freelance with John Cena), and supernatural thriller Merciless, featuring Frank Grillo (Audience network series “Kingdom”, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, Wheelman Copshop, Ida Red).
SPI is handling international sales on the hot titles and are introduce to buyers immediately. Domestic rights on both films are being co-repped by SPI and UTA Film Independent.
“The strength of these packages is a direct result of the fact that they were ideas that originated here, were developed by Sentient filmmakers and are now being sold, financed and produced internally,” said SPI’s Managing Directors Renee Tab and Christopher Tuffin. “This continuous flow is central to Pierre Morel’s goal of providing artists with a one stop shop for elevated, commercial and genre films which will at the same time ensure a high level of quality control for the marketplace.”
Penned from a script he wrote with Daniel Negret (Possessor, The Protege), Antonio Negret (“Hightown,” Overdrive) will direct Sombra, which is set against the backdrop of a South American drug war.
Here’s the logline: The Colombian cartel never expected the single most dangerous threat to their drug smuggling operation to be a decorated police dog. When man’s best friend becomes the Gulf Clan’s enemy #1, they put a hit out on her life and kidnap Sombra. Her handler must beat the odds to rescue his beloved companion from the clutches of Colombia’s most notorious criminal organization. In total, Sombra’s busts have resulted in 245 arrests and the seizure of 2,000 kilos of cocaine having twice earned her the Wilson Quintero medal, an honor awarded for critical contributions to the fight against drug trafficking.
The Suicide Squad’s Daniela Melchior is also in talks to star in the new action thriller which Tab, Morel and Tuffin will produce on behalf of SPI. Michael and Jeeny Miller of Miller Way will serve as exec producers.
The film will also mark a third collaboration for SPI and Raba following Peppermint opposite Jennifer Garner, and upcoming action-comedy Freelance opposite John Cena and Alison Brie, both directed by Morel best known for Liam Neeson’s Taken, John Travolta thriller From Paris With Love, and dystopian parkour action thriller Banlieue 13 with David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli.
Negret is repped by Sentient, Paradigm and attorney Eric J. Feig; Raba by Impression Entertainment and Gersh; and Melchior by CAA and Brave Artists Management.
Grillo will reunite with Beyond Skyline helmer Liam O’Donnell for Merciless. The film was developed by Tuffin along with Frank Hannah (The Cooler) who wrote the script whose logline reads as follows: In Merciless, when his wife is possessed by a malevolent spirit, the government’s top interrogator (Grillo) seeks vengeance on those who were closest to the entity in its previous life in order to drive it out of her body only to discover that everything is not what it appears to be.
Tab, Morel and Tuffin will produce alongside Andy Schefter for SPI. Principal photography is set to commence on location in Alabama in August later this year.
Grillo has been making a killing of late circling a number of deals and casting headlines this season, attaching himself to Kieran Hawkes’s Branded and Brad Anderson’s The Dagon, Nick Vallelonga’s Dirty, Justin Price’s Hard Matter, Remy Grillo’s Man’s Son, and once more with O’Donnell for Skyline Radial, the fourth in the Skyline saga. The actor is expected to appear next in Grillo is starring in Paradise Highway alongside Morgan Freeman from Lionsgate, Ambi Pictures biopic Lamborghini in the role of founder Ferruccio Lamborghini, and in Isaac Florentine’s newest action thriller out of XYZ Films, Hounds Of War with Rhona Mitra and Robert Patrick, with Kevin Grevioux’s Alain Moussi starrer King Of Killers and Steven C. Miller’s Year Two also in tow, among others.
Grillo is repped by CAA, Management 360, 42West, and Paul Hastings; and O’Donnell by Eric Williams at Zero Gravity Management and the law firm of Miloknay Weiner.
SPI also added to its extensive network of global distribution partners to support its growing slate, closing a first look deal with one of the leading film distributors in Latin America, Mexico and Brazil, CDC. The company previously announced similar deals with Italia in the Middle East, Greece Turkey and India, Leonine in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, Volga in Russia and CIS, Empire in South Africa and Vertical Distribution in Eastern Europe.
Stuart Ford’s AGC will be showing the first footage of SPI’s action-comedy Freelance starring John Cena and Alison Brie, financed by AGC Studios and Endurance Media, from Taken director Pierre Morel to buyers in Cannes. The film is currently in post-production.
Next up for SPI partners Morel, Tab and Tuffin is Canary Black starring Kate Beckinsale which is currently being sold, financed and produced by Anton.
SPI was repped in all deals by Kevin Mills of Kaye & Mills.