Halloween may be yesterday’s news but horror movies are now a year-round business, and with that in mind, New Line has won a bidding war for Dear David, the online ghost story from former BuzzFeed writer Adam Ellis.
In June, BuzzFeed Studios partnered with It producer Dan Lin and his Rideback banner to produce the film, but it still needed a distributor. Dear David was shopped to studios in September, and following protracted negotiations, New Line beat out Paramount Players for the recognizable (i.e. viral) project.
While Dear David may not be the eventual title, the film is being developed as a high-concept horror thriller based on Ellis’ August 2017 tweets about his apartment being haunted by the ghost of a dead child who is trying to kill him. He produced what appeared to be digital evidence, and said he addresses the boy with the words ‘Dear David.’ Ellis racked up more than 1 million Twitter followers who were intrigued by his story. Because he was writing for BuzzFeed at the time (he left in January) and the story was posted as an article on the website, there were questions as to who owned the rights to Dear David, but eventually the two sides struck a deal and decided to team up with an experienced producer like Lin, who has the industry clout to get a movie like this made. In numerous interviews, Ellis has maintained that his story is true, and the haunting was real.
Earlier this summer, TheWrap reported that Mike Van Waes would write the script, based on a story Van Waes and Evan Turner, who will also executive produce. Lin and Rideback exec Jonathan Eirich will produce alongside BuzzFeed Studios’ Lauren Dolgen and Hieu Ho.
Frankly, Dear David couldn’t find a better home than New Line, whose horror roots run deep as The House That Freddy Built. More recently, the studio released the horror hits The Nun, Annabelle: Creation, Lights Out, and Andy Muschietti‘s It, which grossed $700 million worldwide. New Line will release the adult-oriented sequel on Sept. 6, 2019.