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Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan to Star in Thriller ‘Black Flies’ for Open Road Films

Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire will direct the film that’s based on a novel by Shannon Burke

Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan are set to star in a thriller called “Black Flies” that will be directed by filmmaker Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire. Open Road Films has acquired the U.S. rights to the project.

The film is based on Shannon Burke’s novel of the same name and follows two paramedics driving the streets of New York in an ambulance — one a young student who dreams of going to medical school and the other a grizzled veteran and one of the city’s best medics. “Black Flies” is a thriller about the toll that saving lives inflicts on paramedics, and the film aims to give a street-view look at one paramedic’s struggle to feel he’s making a difference.

Ryan King wrote the screenplay, and the film is expected to begin production in New York in Q4 of 2021.

FilmNation Entertainment is handling international sales and will debut the project at the upcoming European Film Market. CAA Media Finance brokered the U.S. distribution deal.

“Black Flies” is being produced by Sculptor Media alongside Force Majeure, James Masciello’s creative producing arm, and Projected Picture Works, in association with Wiip. The film’s producers are Warren Goz (Sculptor Media), Eric Gold (Sculptor Media), Christopher Kopp, Lucan Toh, Sean Penn (Projected Picture Works), John Ira Palmer (Projected Picture Works) and John Wildermuth (Projected Picture Works).

The executive producers are Luke Rodgers, Josh Stern, Tye Sheridan, James Masciello, Matthew Sidari and Tom Ortenberg.

Open Road Films recently relaunched after Raven Capital Management acquired the distributor in 2018, with former head Tom Ortenberg leading the company. Since its relaunch, the distributor has released Liam Neeson’s “Honest Thief” and “The Marksman.”

Sean Penn is next starring with Julia Roberts in a Watergate series called “Gaslit” at Starz, and Sheridan recently joined the cast of George Clooney’s “The Tender Bar” alongside Ben Affleck at Amazon. Sauvaire is known for the films “Johnny Mad Dog” and “A Prayer Before Dawn.”

Deadline first reported the news.