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BoulderLight, Production Banner Behind Horror Hit ‘Barbarian,’ Signs First-Look Deal With New Line (Exclusive)



BoulderLight Pictures, the prolific and under-the-radar genre production banner behind last year’s surprise hit, Barbarianhas signed a first-look deal with New Line Cinema.

The pact occurs on the heels of a milestone deal with New Line and Barbarian’s filmmaker, Zach Cregger, for a new feature project that reunites that movie’s team, including BoulderLight. That deal, inked last week, sees Cregger making his follow-up, titled Weaponswith a fast-tracked shoot to begin in July.

The first-look deal is part of the Cinderella story involving BoulderLight’s two-founders, JD Lifshitz, 30, and Raphael Margules, 31. The two men met in Hebrew school and bonded over their love of horror (Lifshitz was an avid reader of Fangoria and saw Scream 3 in theaters at the age of seven). After taking a year in study in Israel, the pair hit the road to Hollywood. Founding BoulderLight in 2012, their first movie was a 2013 horror movie titled Contractedwhich had a budget of around $50,000.

Since then, the pair have produced around two movies a year, almost 20 in the past decade, each of them in the horror, sci-fi and action sphere. All of them were ultra low-budget, most little-seen, although some garnered critical acclaim such as 2021’s four-time Independent Spirit Award nominee. Wild Indian. Then came Barbarian.

Thanks to its unorthodox structure and characters, Cregger’s script was rejected by every company in town. Everyone except BoulderLight, that is. “It’s a weird movie on paper, but it’s never not funny, scary, thrilling, entertaining,” Margules told Vulture last year. “The very reasons people passed on it is why we wanted to do it.”

With financing coming and going and coming back in dramatic fashion, the movie was made for $4.5 million, opened at No. 1 on its opening weekend in September and grossed over $40 million domestically. The company, under mentorship from Roy Lee of Vertigo Entertainment, now found itself in the spotlight and on Hollywood’s radar.

Under the first-look, the plan is for BoulderLight to work on high-concept, filmmaker-driven genre stories for New Line. While budgets for these stories were not disclosed, it’s safe to say they won’t be $50,000.

“JD and Rafi share a passion for cinema that puts the audience first,” said New Line president and chief creative officer Richard Brener. “They have a proven ability to identify and champion stories and filmmakers that transcend genre, and no one works harder or faster as evidenced by the fact they set up a go movie with us before even moving into their offices. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with them.”

On a certain level, having a deal at New Line is a dream come true for the duo. As horror aficionados know, New Line was built on scary movies, starting with the Freddy Krueger-fronted Nightmare on Elm Street in the 1980s. In recent times, the Warner Bros. division has maintained its industry leader status by having six of the top ten horror films of all time, including the top horror film of all time (it, with $705 million worldwide) and the top horror franchise in history (The Conjuring universe with more than $2 billion worldwide and counting).

“We have long referenced New Line Cinema as the gold standard of genre entertainment and are incredibly grateful to be moving into the ‘House that Freddy Built.'” said Lifshitz and Margules in a joint statement. “It is truly a dream come true to get to work alongside so many people we genuinely admire, and we are elated to help continue the New Line legacy and remind people why they love going to the movies.”

Jack Whigham at Range Media Partners advised on the deal, which was negotiated by Benjamin Rubinfeld and Dean Bahat of law firm Ziffren Brittenham.

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