Thriller From ‘Saw’ Producer Opens Solar Pictures’ First Slate of Genre Films

Solar Pictures will enter production on four films next year

Newly formed finance and production company Solar Pictures has unveiled an ambitious first slate of films — four mid-budget genre pictures that will all begin shooting next year.

“Dark Corners,” a thriller from Peter Block of the “Saw” franchise, will be the first up. Solar is fully financing the film at a budget of $10 million to $12 million, and production is set to begin early next year in Romania.

“Peter Block has known several of us over here at Solar working with us in different ways, and we think he’s an amazing producer,” co-CEO Kearie Peak told TheWrap. “He puts out these fantastic commercial films, and while Solar probably wouldn’t do ‘Saw,’ we would do something like this – a really smart thriller about this blind girl.”

It follows a beautiful blind college girl tormented by a serial killer who ultimately uses her blindness to her advantage, as Audrey Hepburn did in the movie “Wait Until Dark.” Tom Shankland will direct from a script by E.L. Katz and Tim Day.

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Both its budget and its content are emblematic of the types of films Solar wants to make. Founded in March by filmmaker/financier Bobby Paunescu (pictured left) and former Comerica Entertainment executive Jared Underwood, Solar is looking for high-concept genre films with budgets ranging anywhere from a few million to $40 million.

Solar’s goal with all of these projects is to use foreign sales to cover their own costs and then turn any profit domestically (after it makes a deal with domestic independent studios).

It will also leverage Paunescu's relationships overseas. He owns one of the largest conglomerates in Central and Eastern Europe, with interests in wind-energy parks, insurance, transportation, hotels, agriculture, mining, real estate development and media.

“We take a genre, which we can sell, and use the international foreign sales model,” Peak said. “We’ll take more risks after we have some successes under our belt with the elevated genre films.”

Also read: Bobby Paunescu, Jared Underwood Launch Solar Pictures

The rest of the slate fits that model.

The next two films on the docket are “Jonestown,” a film about the massacre in Guyana, and “The Girl Who Knew Too Much,” a thriller from Paunescu.

Remstar is co co-financing “Jonestown,” which is scheduled to begin production next summer. The companies have an offer out to a director, who will be charged with telling the story of a man seduced by Jim Jones’ cult and what he discovers once he gets inside. It is budgeted at $20 million.

“The Girl Who Knew Too Much” marks Paunescu’s first English-language film. Because it is a Chinese co-production, it must land a major Chinese actor for one of the leads.

The final film from the new slate is perhaps the most ambitious, “Jet Black.” A spy thriller that is the most commercial of the bunch, it is budgeted at $35 to $40 million. Solar is waiting on a rewrite, and is actively pursing a Chinese co-financier before beginning production in the second half of 2013.