US deal for The Babadook

US and Latin American rights to writer-director Jennifer Kent's The Babadook have been acquired by IFC Midnight, which released Snowtown in the US. 

The deal was announced at the Sundance Film Festival where the psychological thriller had its world premiere, generating effusive reviews and a lot of media coverage.   

Essie Davis plays a single mother who must cope with her troubled son (newcomer Noah Wiseman) and the monster that has taken over their home.

"This is an extraordinary debut feature from a brilliant Australian filmmaker named Jennifer Kent who has crafted the perfect classic horror film,” said Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films. “We were blown away by the two lead performances in the film, and we believe that people will see this film and realise that Jennifer Kent has arrived as one of the great new horror filmmakers.”

Last week Wild Bunch bought the rights to France, Germany and Switzerland.

Established in 2010 and based in New York City, IFC Midnight distributes genre films in in cinemas and on cable VOD platforms reaching nearly 50 million homes.

Aside from Justin Kurzel's Snowtown (known as The Snowtown Murders in the US), its releases have included Maniac, Argento's Dracula and Antiviral. 

The distributor is looking to release The Babadook in September/October. "We're absolutely honoured that our film has been so well received here at Sundance," Causeway Films' Kristina Ceyton, who produced the film with Kristian Moliere of Smoking Gun Productions, tells IF.

"Like most filmmakers, we all hoped for positive reviews and international sales. Now it's happened, and after a long hard road getting the film made we're so thrilled, and grateful to all our investors and supporters. We're especially happy knowing it's been picked up by two such established and respected companies as IFC and Wild Bunch. It's a dream come true."

The film was co-funded by the SAFC and Screen Australia and filmed at the Adelaide Studios. Jonathan Page, Michael Tear, Jan Chapman and Jeff Harrison are the executive producers.

Typifying the rave reviews, the Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney said. “Cleverly playing off the classic fear of monsters lurking under the bed at night and the spookiness of certain children’s picture books, The Babadook is a distinctive domestic horror story in which the unresolved traumas of a conflicted mother and son are physicalized as a malevolent entity that threatens to consume them.

"Driven by a ripper of a performance from Essie Davis, Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent’s impressive first film has the handcrafted feel of a pre-digital shocker. Its style and originality should help snare niche theatrical play in addition to solid VOD prospects.”

Australian distributor Umbrella Entertainment has not yet set a release date..