Sean Penn’s Competition Entry ‘Black Flies’ Sells to Signature for U.K.

Black Flies, the Cannes competition entry starring two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One), has been acquired by Signature Entertainment for the U.K. and Ireland from FilmNation Entertainment.

Produced by Warren Goz (Copshop), Eric Gold (Copshop), Penn and Sheridan, the feature is directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire (A Prayer Before Dawn) from a script by Ben Mac Brown and Ryan King (The Tutor), based on Shannon Burke’s novel.

Alongside Penn and Sheridan, the film stars Michael Pitt (Funny Games), Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and Mike Tyson (The Hangover).

Black Flies follows Ollie Cross (Sheridan) an upstart paramedic who courses through adrenaline-fueled nights in an ambulance for the New York City Fire Department in Brownsville, Brooklyn while spending days studying for med-school exams in a Chinatown hovel. Working alongside seasoned first responder Gene Rutkovsky (Penn), Cross discovers firsthand the chaos and awe of a job that careens from harrowing to heartfelt, and occasionally stretches into ethical ambiguity. 

The deal was negotiated between Signature Entertainment’s director of acquisitions and TV Elizabeth Williams and FilmNation Entertainment’s senior vpof international sales Rob Carney.

“We are very happy to partner with FilmNation again on this excellent white knuckle thriller and we look forward to U.K. and Irish audiences seeing Sean Penn’s grizzled Gene Rutkovsky take on the mean streets of NYC,” said Williams.

Added Carney: “Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s visceral propulsive thriller is a must-see, and we are thrilled to be partnering with the Signature team to bring the film to U.K. and Irish audiences.