Thriller ‘Phoenix’, Rom-Com ‘Things Like This,’ Short ‘Darwin Fick’ Set Casts; Buffalo 8, Freestyle Acquisitions; More – Film Briefs

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EXCLUSIVE: WWE star Natalie Eva Marie is set to star alongside Randy Couture, Neal McDonough, former WWE tag team champion Oleg Prudius, Bai Lin and former UFC Lightweight champion Rashad Evans in Phoenix, an action-thriller from Tadross Media Group, Bulldog Brothers Entertainment and director Daniel Zirilli that has entered production in Miami.

. - Credit: Tadross Media Group; Bulldog Brothers Entertainment
. - Credit: Tadross Media Group; Bulldog Brothers Entertainment

Tadross Media Group; Bulldog Brothers Entertainment

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Phoenix centers on Fiona “Phoenix” Grant (Marie), a U.S. Army veteran Sergeant who is teaching hand-to-hand combat skills in Afghanistan when she receives word that her father, Everett Grant (Couture), a prominent security specialist, has been killed in Florida. The police report says it was suicide, but Fiona doesn’t believe it. Encouraged to take a leave of absence by her commanding officer (McDonough), she heads back to the U.S. and soon learns that the prime suspect is Maxim Vasiliiev (Prudius), a ruthless local drug kingpin with an army of mercenaries and enough legal, political and business influence to keep him outside the law. Armed to the teeth, she plans to take out Vasiliiev with her bare hands, and nothing is going to stop her.

Zirilli adapted the film from a story he wrote with Alexander Nistratov. Michael Tadross, Jr., Bernard Salzmann and Alexander Nistratov are producing for Tadross Media Group and Bulldog Brothers Entertainment.

Couture is repped by Gersh and Xtreme Couture Management; McDonough by Buchwald, Luber Roklin Entertainment and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman; and Evans by The Spencer Firm.

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EXCLUSIVE: Joey Pollari (Love, Simon) and Bai Ling (Wild Wild West) will round out the cast of Things Like This, a romantic comedy marking the feature directorial debut of actor Max Talisman (Super Dark Times).

The film written by Talisman tells the story of two guys named Zack who fall in love amidst the chaos of New York City. Fate seems to be pulling them together, if only they both believed in it.

(L-R) Joey Pollari, Bai Ling and Max Talisman - Credit: Luke Fontana; Personal Courtesy; Tommy Flanagan
(L-R) Joey Pollari, Bai Ling and Max Talisman - Credit: Luke Fontana; Personal Courtesy; Tommy Flanagan

Luke Fontana; Personal Courtesy; Tommy Flanagan

Talisman will also appear in the pic, with Jasmin Savoy Brown, Charlie Tahan, Eric Roberts, Dyan Cannon, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Michael D. Cohen, Santwon McCray, Willam Belli, Terry Moore, Krista Allen, Margaret Berkowitz, Matt Cullen, Jade Weber, Danny Chavarriaga, Maya Henry, Emily Rafala, Jake Reiner, Romy Reiner and Mitchell Hoog rounding out its cast.

Buzz Koenig is producing for Opposite Field Pictures, with Brian McCulley for The Collective, Chavarriaga and Andrew Burrill. Jake Reiner is serving as its exec producer, with production to kick off this spring.

Pollari is repped by Pakula/King & Associates, UTA, Atlas Artists and Jackoway Austen Tyerman; Ling by Sovereign Talent Group, Paradigm Artist Management (UK) and Empire Agency (Germany); and Talisman by Sovereign Talent Group, Connecting Talent Company and Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks.

***

EXCLUSIVE: Moe Jeudy-Lamour (Ted Lasso) and Samantha Robinson (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) have signed on to star alongside Eve Austin and Kristin Samuelson in Darwin Fick, a short film from writer, director and producer Joe Benedetto.

Darwin Fick - Credit: Trajectory Films
Darwin Fick - Credit: Trajectory Films

Trajectory Films

The story centers on a a legendary author (Samuelson) plagued by writer’s block, who gets a unique offer from a mysterious stranger (Austin). Benedetto is producing the film through his company Trajectory Films, alongside Austin and Samuelson.

Jeudy-Lamour is repped by TalentWorks and Protege Entertainment; Robinson by Gersh and Elevate Entertainment; Austin by Aligned Stars Agency (Georgia) and Vamous Talento (UK); Samuelson by Marilyn’s Agency (North Carolina); and Benedetto by Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz.

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EXCLUSIVE: Buffalo 8 has acquired writer-director Kerry Bellessa’s horror-thriller Immanence for release on digital and VOD on February 4.

Immanence watches as a team of radio astronomers discover a mysterious signal in the deep sea that could be the world’s first contact with extraterrestrials, while investigating a meteor strike in the Bermuda Triangle.

. - Credit: Buffalo 8
. - Credit: Buffalo 8

Buffalo 8

After witnessing various impossible phenomena, the team becomes convinced that something is trying to communicate with them. Aboard their boat is Jonah (Michael Beach), a loner with a mysterious past and cryptic motives. His faith leads him to suggest that this communication may be a manifestation of divinity, a hypothesis which the scientists immediately reject. Soon the communications go from inexplicable to terrifying, threatening not only the team’s beliefs, but also their lives. When chaos culminates in an ominous revelation that makes everyone a threat, the team must fight for both their sanity and survival.

Kerry Bellessa penned the script with Joshua Oram and produced alongside Summer Bellessa and Michael Beach. Summer Bellessa, Eugene Byrd, Anthony Ruivivar, Kasia Pilewicz, Asenneth Del Toro and Jamie Mcshane round out the cast.

The acquisition deal for Immanence was negotiated by NIkki Stier Justice on behalf of Buffalo 8. The film’s trailer can be found below.

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EXCLUSIVE: Freestyle Digital Media has acquired worldwide rights to Carolina Rueda’s drama Oklahoma Mon Amour and North American rights to writer-director Vigil Chime’s supernatural horror pic The Touched One. The digital film distribution division of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group/Entertainment Studios will release both titles across VOD platforms, unveiling the former on February 8 and the latter on February 15.

Oklahoma Mon Amour - Credit: Freestyle Digital Media
Oklahoma Mon Amour - Credit: Freestyle Digital Media

Freestyle Digital Media

Oklahoma Mon Amour watches as Sebastian (Richard Williams) travels by road from Oklahoma to Mexico to find his long-gone brother, Nico (Arthur Dixon), determined to unveil the buried secrets that destroyed their family.

Rueda and Marcelo Rioseco penned the film, which also stars David Slemmons, Kody Burns, Tatiana Rioseco, Richard Ray Whitman, Katie Williams and Sydne Gray. Pic was produced by OMA Films.

The Touched One - Credit: Freestyle Digital Media
The Touched One - Credit: Freestyle Digital Media

Freestyle Digital Media

The Touched One follows Chinaza (Ijeoma Grace Agu), a woman anointed by a sacred ram to do good deeds, who goes in search of a gang of men who did her wrong in order to correct them of their evil ways. Kenneth Okolie, Emeka Amakeze, Amechi Muonagor, Prince Nnanna Ndukwe and Clemson Cornel Agbogidi round out the cast of the film produced by Chime and Happy Julian Uchendu.

Freestyle Digital Media negotiated the deal to acquire Oklahoma Mon Amour with Glen Reynolds of Circus Road Films, negotiating the deal for The Touched One with Chime of Breakfast Pictures Entertainment and Halle Mariner at APA.

The trailers for both films can be found below.

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EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has the first clips from Maika, a children’s adventure film, which made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22. The Vietnamese sci-fi pic marks director Ham Tran’s first return to the fest in 15 years, on the heels of his 2006 drama Journey from the Fall.

. - Credit: Personal Courtesy
. - Credit: Personal Courtesy

Personal Courtesy

Maika follows 8-year-old Hung (Phú Lại Trường), who is grappling with the death of his mother and having difficulty connecting to his father, when his best friend moves away, along with others in his apartment as a greedy landlord conspires to push everyone out so he can sell the place. One night, as Hung retreats to the roof to be alone and watch the night sky, he witnesses an errant falling star hitting the ground by a lake near his town, hopping on his bike in search of adventure.

He arrives at the crash site, and instead of a meteor, discovers an alien girl (Diệp Anh Chu) from the planet Maika, who came in search of her lost friend. As Hung helps Maika find her friend and get back to her home, she inadvertently helps Hung make new friends and mend his broken heart. But danger lurks everywhere, as Hung is not the only one who knows of his new alien friend…

Tin Tin, Ngọc Tưởng and Kim Nhã Trần also star in the film produced by Jenni Trang Le, Duy Ho, Anderson Le and Bao Nguyen. Quang Binh Nguyen Phan and Bich Hien Ngo Thi exec produced it, with Vi Vincent Ngo serving as its associate producer.

The first clips from Maika can be found below.

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EXCLUSIVE: Deadline also has the first clip from Who Are You People, a drama from writer-director Ben Epstein that is premiering at the Mammoth Film Festival on February 5.

. - Credit: Endeavor Content
. - Credit: Endeavor Content

Endeavor Content

The film centers on 16-year-old Alex (Ema Horvath), who runs away from boarding school, after a botched attempt to seduce her English teacher, to seek out the biological father her mother always kept hidden and learn the dark secret of her roots.

Devon Sawa, Yeardley Smith, Peter Parros, Siddhartha Dhananjay, Reid Miller, John Ales and Alyssa Milano round out its cast. Epstein, Jordan Foley, Toby Louie, and Nick Smith produced it, with Milano, Graham Moore, Yeardley Smith, Ben Cornwell, Fred Chandler, Neely Eisenstein, AJ Gordon, Irka Zazulak, Melissa Pianko and Rod Cooper exec producing. Rob Nelson and Benjy Caplan served as co-producers.

Kevin Iwashina of Endeavor Content is handling sales for the film.

Check out the clip from Who Are You People below.

***

EXCLUSIVE: Passionflix has unveiled a new trailer for Tangled, a rom-com based on New York Times bestselling author Emma Chase’s debut novel of the same name, which is set to premiere on the romance-themed streaming service on February 3.

Tangled - Credit: Passionflix
Tangled - Credit: Passionflix

Passionflix

The film directed by Traci Hays centers on Kate (Katherine Hughes), who refuses to fall for playboy Drew’s (Josh Plasse) tactical skills to seduce her, making him desire her even more.

Tangled also stars Cameron Jebo, Douglas Dickerman, Ruben Javier Caballero, Brittney Level, Katherine Barber, Jarrod Beck, Sailor Larocque, Kynzie Colmery, Brent McGee, Jeffrey Marshall, Jennifer Pierce Mathus, Cecilia Specht and Pamela Gold. Marcy Pocrnic handled the screenplay adaptation, with Michael Buttiglieri serving as the film’s producer. Chase exec produced it with Tosca Musk.

View the trailer for Tangled below.

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