Tessa Thompson (Westworld) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Super Pumped) are attached to star in the sci-fi thriller Ash, which the Grammy-winning musician and filmmaker Flying Lotus — otherwise known as Steven Ellison — will direct as his sophomore feature, as we first reported in January. Neill Blomkamp (District 9) has since then come aboard to exec produce the pic, which its financier XYZ Films will rep for worldwide sales at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival.
While at TIFF to meet with key buyers for Ash, Flying Lotus will appear in support of his segment of V/H/S/99, which is having its world premiere in the Midnight section of the festival.
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The new film, for which the multi-hyphenate will also compose an original score, watches as a woman (Thompson) wakes up on a distant planet and finds the crew of her space station viciously killed, and must then decide if she can trust the man (Gordon-Levitt) sent to rescue her. But as their investigation into what happened sets in motion a terrifying chain of events, he begins to wonder how innocent she really is.
Jonni Remmler wrote the original screenplay for the film, looking to go into production in New Zealand next year. It is Flying Lotus’ follow-up to the Sundance-premiering body horror anthology, Kuso. XYZ Films and GFC Films will produce, with Blomkamp exec producing alongside Echo Lake Entertainment. Ash follows XYZ’s collaboration with GFC on Toa Fraser’s New Zealand Oscar entry The Dead Lands, which was presented to the U.S. market by James Cameron, and Toa’s subsequent action-thriller 6 Days starring Jamie Bell, Mark Strong and Abbie Cornish, which debuted globally on Netflix in 2017.
“It’s an absolute dream come true to collaborate with some of the most talented actors out there!,” said Flying Lotus.
GFC’s Founder and Managing Director Matthew Metcalfe and XYZ Films Partner Nate Bolotin added, “We couldn’t be happier for Tessa and Joseph to headline this film, they are both incredibly talented and gifted actors. With Steve at the helm, this is going to be a truly visionary film and we couldn’t be more excited to take the project into production in 2023.”
Thompson is an Emmy- and BAFTA Award-nominated actress and producer who reprised her Marvel role as Valkyrie for the recent Thor: Lover and Thunder, also recently returning for the fourth season of HBO’s Westworld. Other notable big-screen credits from recent years include Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut Passing, and Prime Video’s Sylvie’s Love, which she also exec produced, as well as Selma, Dear White People and the Creed films. Among Thompson’s upcoming projects is Creed III, which is currently in post-production, with its release set for next March. Her production company Viva Maude is actively in development on projects including Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Luster and Who Fears Death.
Gordon-Levitt is a two-time Emmy winner who most recently starred as Uber’s Travis Kalanick in the first season of Showtime’s anthology series Super Pumped, prior to that starring in the Apple TV+ series Mr. Corman, which he also created and directed. The actor known for turns in films like Inception, Looper, his feature directorial debut Don Jon and 50/50 recently wrapped production on the indie comedy Providence with Lily James and Himesh Patel, and will voice Jiminy Cricket in Robert Zemeckis’ upcoming live-action-animation hybrid Pinocchio, which is slated for release on Disney+ on September 8.
XYZ Films is an independent studio founded in 2008 by Bolotin, Nick Spicer and Aram Tertzakian. XYZ’s current projects include The Black Kaiser with Mads Mikkelsen, Hounds of War starring Frank Grillo, Robert Patrick and Rhona Mitra, and the Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead film Something in the Dirt, which premiered at Sundance 2022. Its current slate also includes Nic Cassavetes’ God Is a Bullet starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maika Monroe and Jamie Foxx, Lorcan Finnegan’s Nocebo with Eva Green and Mark Strong, and BAFTA nominee Phillip Barantini’s Accused. The company is currently in post-production on the Netflix Original Havoc, directed by Gareth Evans and starring Tom Hardy and Forrest Whitaker.
An Auckland-based production company led by Metcalfe, GFC Films’ current titles include Christine Jeffs’ medical misadventure drama A Mistake and an adaptation of Mark Manson’s global bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
Echo Lake Entertainment is the production and management company behind Hulu’s Emmy-nominated comedy series The Great, starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult, which has been renewed for a third season. Other recent credits include All the Bright Places and Oxygen for Netflix, Van Helsing for Syfy and The Secrets We Keep, which was distributed by Bleecker Street.
Thompson is repped by WME, Mosaic and Jackoway Austen Tyerman; Gordon-Levitt by WME and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.
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