EXCLUSIVE: XYZ Films has claimed North American rights to the sci-fi pic The Artifice Girl, starring Tatum Matthews (The Waltons: Homecoming) and Lance Henriksen (Aliens), which this past weekend had its U.S. premiere at SXSW after world premiering to critical acclaim at Fantasia Film Festival.
The film marking the feature debut of writer-director Franklin Rich — which like Uni’s horror hit M3GAN, looks at the increasingly top-of-mind subject of AI through a genre prism — is slated for a theatrical release in 15+ U.S. Markets, as well as an accompanying digital debut this spring.
The Artifice Girl follows a small team of special agents who discover a revolutionary computer program that uses a digital child to catch online predators. After teaming up with the program’s troubled developer, they soon find that the AI’s inevitable advancement is far more rapid and incalculable than they could have imagined, posing unforeseen challenges and unsettling consequences for the future of technology and mankind.
Also starring Sinda Nichols, David Girard and Ritch, the film was produced by Aaron B. Koontz and Ashleigh Snead (The Pale Door). Peter Kuplowsky exec produced, with Cameron Burns and Alex Euting serving as co-producers.
“When we read Franklin’s script, we knew it had the potential to be special and have had the unique privilege to develop his bold ideas into a film we are all proud of,” said producers Koontz and Snead. “To release this with an amazing partner like XYZ, who specializes in supporting exciting new voices in genre, is a perfect way to introduce his timely and thought-provoking story to the world.”
XYZ’s EVP of U.S. Distribution, James Emanuel Shapiro added that “Franklin Ritch is 100% his own filmmaker but it was so easy to watch ARTIFICE GIRL for the first time and be reminded of debut sci-fi films like THX-1138, MOON, EX MACHINA or TIMECRIMES. He is the real deal and it’s an incredible privilege to handle his first film.”
XYZ has, since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, enjoyed a run of successes with titles like Stowaway and Synchronic topping Netflix’s charts, and others like The Silencing and Alone making a similar impact in TVOD. The company’s current projects include The Winter Kills with Kiefer Sutherland, Atom Egoyan’s Seven Veils starring Amanda Seyfried, Matt Johnson’s much-discussed BlackBerry — which premiered in competition in Berlin and will be released by IFC Films later this year — and The Wasp starring Naomie Harris and Natalie Dormer.
XYZ’s current slate also includes Nic Cassavetes’ God Is a Bullet starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maika Monroe and Jamie Foxx, Lorcan Finnegan’s Nocebo with Eva Green and Mark Strong, and BAFTA-nominated Boiling Point helmer Phillip Barantini’s Accused.
XYZ is currently in post on the Netflix Original Havoc, directed by Gareth Evans and starring Tom Hardy and Forrest Whitaker. Shapiro and Alex Williams negotiated the deal for The Artifice Girl on behalf of the company, with Koontz and Snead on behalf of the filmmakers.