‘Smile’ Filmmaker Parker Finn Signs First-Look Deal With Paramount (Exclusive)

Parker Finn, the filmmaker behind 2022’s biggest horror hit, Smile, has signed a multiyear, first-look deal with Paramount Pictures.

Paramount distributed Smile, which Finn wrote and directed, with the movie grossing over $216 million worldwide. Among the movie’s distinctions, other than creeping people out with scary smiles, was being the first original horror title to hold the No. 1 position at the domestic box office for two weeks since 2016.

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Lips are sealed as far as deal details go, but Parker is expected to write, produce and direct features in the horror genre. The studio would love a Smile sequel but it’s not clear what Finn’s next movie will be.

Smilebreakthrough success is a testament to Parker’s unique and fresh filmmaking, and we are thrilled that he will make Paramount his home,” said Paramount president and CEO Brian Robbins in a statement.

“Parker knows how to keep people on the edge of their seat and we’re happy that we get to keep scaring audiences together,” said Paramount’s motion picture group co-presidents Michael Ireland and Daria Cercek.

Finn made his feature directorial debut with Smile, which he adapted from his 2020 short film, Laura Hasn’t Slept. It starred Caitlin Stasey and Lew Temple, and was an official selection of SXSW 2020, where it was awarded a special jury recognition.

Smile was initially made for streaming service Paramount+, but a test screening in Burbank three months into postproduction changed the trajectory of the film — and Finn’s career.

“The audience was screaming at the screen, so it was very clear that the communal environment and nature of it was incredible,” Finn told The Hollywood Reporter in December. “And to Paramount’s credit, they recognized that, and they got behind the film in such an amazing way.”

The movie was released in September and, with a budget of only $17 million, became one of the most profitable movies of the year. Smile was part of the horror renaissance that took hold of the theatrical experience in 2022. It also opened the studio’s eyes to build out a deeper horror bench for its slate. In November, it signed former Warner Bros. executive Walter Hamada to an exclusive deal to produce horror movies.

Finn is repped by CAA, Grandview and Jackoway Austen.

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