Thriller ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ gets new distributor, August release date

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“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” has escaped from the shadows.

The thriller, produced by Guillermo del Toro and starring Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes, had once been scheduled for a Jan. 21 release by Miramax Films. But the movie was thrown into limbo when Disney sold the specialty label in a $660-million deal. It was unclear what Miramax’s new owner, Colony Capital, would do with it -- Disney didn’t want to hold on to the title and do its own release.

Now, new distributor FilmDistrict says it has acquired all U.S. rights to the film from Colony Capital and will release the movie on Aug. 12. FilmDistrict is the new financing, production and distribution outfit launched by producer Graham King and Tim Headington. Other potential distributors said they wanted to cut the film to get a PG-13 rating, but FilmDistrict will release “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” with its original R rating.


FilmDistrict’s slate includes April 1’s “Insidious,” April 8’s “Soul Surfer” and Sept. 16’s “Drive.” The company’s theatrical distribution president, Bob Berney, previously released Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Orphanage,” which Del Toro produced, when Berney was running Picturehouse Entertainment.

A trailer for “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” which follows a young girl’s frightening encounter with nasty, tooth-collecting gremlins who live in a mansion’s furnace, was shown to wide acclaim at last summer’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. The finished movie now could end up back at Comic-Con this summer. The film, a loose remake of the 1973 television movie of the same name, was directed by newcomer Troy Nixey.

--John Horn