UPDATED, 4:12 PM: Following IFC Midnight and Shudder’s acquisition of North American rights to Chloe Okuno-directed Watcher, AGC International has closed a worldwide rights outside North America with Focus Features. AGC took the unusual step of moving its EFM screening forward to last week to accommodate extensive international interest after Watcher had its world premiere at Sundance, where Okuno’s feature debut garnered excellent reviews.
Sundance Review: Chloe Okuno’s ‘Watcher’
The deal was negotiated by AGC President of Worldwide Sales & Distribution Crystal Bourbeau and AGC’s SVP Legal & Business Affairs Anant Tamirisa on behalf of AGC, and by Focus Features’ Director of Production and Acquisitions Joe Toto and SVP Business & Legal Affairs Iddo Arad negotiating on behalf of Focus Features. UTA Independent Film Group and Cinetic handled the North American deal.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, January 30: IFC Midnight is closing a deal for North American distribution rights on the Sundance buzz title Watcher, Deadline hears. The Chloe Okuno-directed thriller stars Maika Monroe (It Follows), Karl Glusman (Love), and Burn Gorman (Torchwood). Pic will be distributed by IFC Midnight, and Shudder will take the first streaming window.
When Julia (Monroe) hangs up her acting aspirations to join her husband when he relocates to his family’s native Romania for a new job she finds herself frequently alone and unoccupied. One night, people-watching from her picture window, she spots a vague figure in an adjacent building, who seems to be looking back at her. Soon after, while alone at a local movie theater, Julia’s sense of being watched intensifies, and she becomes certain she’s being followed — could it be the same unknown neighbor? Meanwhile, a serial killer known as The Spider stalks the city.
Pic is co-scripted by Zack Ford and Okuno, and produced by Roy Lee and Steven Schneider of Spooky Pictures, Derek Dauchy, John Finemore, Aaron Kaplan, Mason Novick, and Sean Perrone. The exec producers are Gabi Antal, James Hoppe, Stuart Manashil and Rami Yasin.
Pic premiered in US Dramatic Competition on Jan 21. IFC Films’ Head of Acquisitions and Production Scott Shooman made the deal with UTA Independent Film Group and Cinetic, with AGC brokering international.
Okuno, who directed Shudder’s V/H/S/94 and Slut, said: “It was a hard-fought battle to make Watcher during the pandemic, and I’m so proud of everyone who worked to get us to this point. I am beyond delighted to partner with IFC Midnight and Shudder to continue this journey together and cannot wait to share the movie with a wider audience.”
IFC president Arianna Bocco said: “Chloe Okuno’s exceptional vision uses horror and thriller elements in a masterful way that will resonate with any person looking for a singular cinematic experience, even further emboldened by a star-turning performance from Maika Monroe. We’re honored to introduce Chloe’s stunning feature debut Watcher to audiences across North America, announcing her as a director to watch.” Shudder GM Craig Engler added: “We’ve been huge fans of Chloe Okuno’s since her short film days and were lucky to have her direct one of the most popular segments of our hit movie V/H/S/94, which premiered to record numbers last year. We’re delighted to be working with her again on WATCHER, which is a brilliant and tense film with a breakout performance from Maika Monroe, and we can’t wait for Shudder members to see it.”