USA Films is taking North American rights to a slew of horror pictures from Denmark's Zentropa, in return for stumping up 35% of the slate's combined budget.
Produced by the Danish company's international arm, Zentropa Internationale, the films will be labelled Zentropa Zhillers, and range in budget from $3.5m to $10m. UK financing house Visionview is supplying a further 25%. Zentropa-owned Trust Film Sales will sell the films internationally.
'We're not going to make teenage slashers like the 'I Know What You Did'.' films, but aim at a more adult audience with drama horror in the style of The Sixth Sense and What Lies Beneath," said Zentropa Internationale creative producer Lars Sund Duus.
'We have no intention of doing special effects-driven films,' Duus added. 'Our films will have para-psychological and supernatural elements, but the drama and the characters are the most important, because Zhillers are as much human tales as they are haunted tales.'
Zentropa co-owner Lars von Trier's popular TV series The Kingdom is cited as a role model for the films, but the producers hope to attract new directing and screenwriting talent. "We will offer veteran writers a chance to try their hand at another genre, but are very open to scripts from all over the world," Duus said.
One writer-director already attached is Denmark's Anders Ronnow-Klarlund, who directed horror title Possessed in 1999. All the films will be English-language, and so far the producers are looking at six projects from Sweden, Germany and the UK among other countries, which fit the formula.
"It won't be a problem to shoot one film in France and one in Germany, but all post-production will take place in Copenhagen," said Zentropa Internationale's Ole Sondberg.