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Participant Media, Changing Its Stripes, Sells Thriller 'Out of the Dark' to Vertical Entertainment

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 25, 2014 at 5:41PM

As Participant Media prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary at Toronto with the world premiere of animated “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet,” the company led by eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll has been broadening its narrowly defined social action niche to include commercial feature fare. The message is still there--but it's more hidden.
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'Out of the Dark'
'Out of the Dark'
Ten years after its founding, Participant Media has released some 55 films, from docs "An Inconvenient Truth," "Food, Inc.," "Waiting for ‘Superman'" to upcoming Toronto International Film Festival title "Merchants of Doubt" to uplifting features such as "Good Night, and Good Luck," "Syriana," "The Help," "Contagion" and "Lincoln." As Participant prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary at Toronto with the world premiere of animated “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet,” the company led by eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll has been broadening its narrowly defined social action niche to include commercial feature fare. The message is still there--but it's more hidden.

In one example, the company just sold U.S. rights to supernatural thriller "Out of the Dark," starring Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman, and Stephen Rea, to Vertical Entertainment (“Behaving Badly” and “The Calling"), for early 2015 theatrical release accompaniied by a social action campaign in partnership with NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) tied to environmental issues raised in the film.
 
Lluís Quílez shot the Spanish-Colombian co-production about a young family's move to South America, where they confront ancient stories, ghosts, and a dark secret, on location in Colombia. “Lluís is an outstanding first-time director," said Jonathan King, Participant’s EVP, Narrative Film, "who made a thrilling ghost story with a powerful message." 
 
Written by Alex Pastor & David Pastor, and Javier Gullón, "Out of the Dark" is presented by Vertical in association with Participant Media and Image Nation. It is produced by Apaches Entertainment, Cactus Flower, and Fast Producciones and Belén Atienza, Cristian Conti, Enrique López Lavigne and Andrés Calderón, in association with Dynamo and XYZ Film, and executive produced by Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Roy Azout, and Nick Spicer.
 
“Out of the Dark is much more than it seems on the surface," said Vertical’s Co-President Rich Goldberg. "We think it will surprise genre fans with its ability to reach beyond just the scares and great storytelling, and have a thought-provoking motif that will stay with them well after they see it.”

This article is related to: Festivals, Festivals, Toronto, Toronto International Film Festival, Merchants of Doubt, Participant Media, Documentary, Documentaries


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.