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Supernatural Thriller ‘The Forest’ Goes to Focus Features

A January 2016 release is set for film based on idea by David Goyer, which will be directed by Jason Zada

Focus Features has picked up North American distribution rights to supernatural thriller “The Forest,” the company said Thursday at the Cannes film festival.

The thriller from David Linde‘s Lava Bear Films and Phantom Four will be directed by Jason Zada from a script rewritten by Sarah Cornwell and based on an original idea by screenwriter David S. Goyer — the writer behind “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Man of Steel.”

Good Universe has partnered with Lava Bear to handle international sales on the film.

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Lava Bear Films is producing along with Goyer and Nellie Reed under his Phantom Four banner. Focus plans to release the film on January 8, 2016. Lava Bear President Tory Metzger will oversee the production.

“The Forest” is set in Japan’s Aokigahara forest where, according to legend, people go to end their lives. Against this backdrop, a young American woman comes in search of her twin sister, who has mysteriously disappeared. Despite everyone’s warnings not to “stray from the path,” Sara dares to enter the forest to discover the truth about her sister’s fate.

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Zada has made his mark as a director of commercials and music videos. His credits including the 2011 interactive short film “Take This Lollipop,”  which was viewed more than 7 million times on YouTube and drew 13 million “likes” on Facebook.

“‘The Forest’ will be a cinematic journey to a dark and terrifying place and I’m happy to be on that journey with Jason Zada, David Goyer, David Linde, and Tory Metzger,” said Peter Schlessel, chief executive at Focus. “The supernatural scares of the ‘The Forest’ will be something that will genuinely thrill audiences.”

The deal was negotiated on behalf of Focus by executive v.p. of business affairs Beth Lemberger, with attorney David Boyle representing Lava Bear. Goyer is represented by WME and Zada is represented by UTA.

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