Natali taps Polley, Brody for Splice

Vincenzo Natali’s science fiction thriller Splice will go to camera in Toronto on Dec. 3 with Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody on board to star.

Producer Steve Hoban of Copperheart Entertainment tells Playback Daily the film was initially meant to be a follow-up to Natali’s 1997 hit Cube, but was never realized due to the restrictions in technology and the projected cost of the production.

‘It was just too expensive and complicated back then,’ he says, adding that the team invigorated the project about a year and half ago. Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) is attached as executive producer along with Franck Chorot of Paris-based Gaumont and Don Murphy of Angry Bulls Films in Los Angeles.

The story follows two young scientists (Polley and Brody) who become famous through their experiments in genetic engineering, whereby they splice different animal DNA to create fantastical new creatures.

Hoban says they’ve been in ‘soft’ prep for the past few months on the $26-million feature, because of all the design and special effects, which are primarily being handled by Gord Smith (X-Men, Natural Born Killers) of Toronto’s fxsmith, and CORE Digital Effects.

‘[Smith] is the only guy in Canada that’s at that level — that Rick Baker kind of level,’ says Hoban, referring to the well-known Hollywood artist whose resume includes Batman Forever and The Nutty Professor.

The 75/25 Canada/France copro will predominantly shoot in a studio over 10 weeks, according to Hoban, who says the production is in the process of finalizing the studio deal. Post-production will be done at Toronto’s Deluxe studios and Tattersall Sound & Picture. Splice will wrap at the end of February. Seville Pictures is attached as Canadian distributor.

Hoban says he’s in discussions with other distributors, and expects presales in territories including Japan — where Natali is especially popular — before commencing shooting.