European film-TV group Studiocanal is teaming with Imperative Entertainment to make psychological thriller “Cat Person,” based on the short story by Kristen Roupenian which was published by The New Yorker in 2017. It went on to become its most downloaded fiction that year.

Owned by Vivendi’s Canal PLus Group, and traditionally one of the strongest sales operations at Cannes, Studiocanal will fully finance the feature – billed as describing the “hellscape” of modern romance. It will begin world sales at this week’s Virtual Cannes Market, with 30West co-representing U.S. rights.

“Cat Person” will be directed by DGA Award-winning Susanna Fogel (“The Flight Attendant,” “The Wilds”).
Written by Michelle Ashford (“Masters of Sex,” “The Pacific”), the psychological thriller will star Emmy Award-nominated Nicholas Braun (pictured), whose credits take in “Succession” and “Zola,” and Emilia Jones, star of “Locke & Key” and “Coda.”

World premiering at Sundance Film Festival this year, “Coda” won four prizes including the Audience Award and U.S. Grand Jury Prize. It also secured a festival-record $25 million sales deal with Apple.

Roupenian’s short story turns on the casual, but increasingly discomfiting, relationship between Margot, a 20-year-old college student, and Robert, a 34 man who goes to the movie theater where Margot works.

“Using Kristen’s excruciatingly well-observed short story about the horrors of dating as the jumping off point for an actual genre film, ‘Cat Person’ will explore the hellscape of modern romance and the idea that we have all been the villain in someone else’s story, and the victim in others.” Fogel said.

“Cat Person” will be produced by Imperative Entertainment’s Jeremy Steckler (“The Mule,” “The Square,” “Late Night”), in association with 30West, which arranged the financing.

Fogel is represented by UTA and Margaret Riley at Lighthouse. Braun is repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners, UTA and Jackoway Austen Tyerman. Jones is repped by ICM and ARG Talent.

Studiocanal’s Pre-Cannes Screenings sales slate also features horror-thriller “Baghead,” starring “The Witcher’s” Freya Allan, and produced with The Picture Company. Of Cannes Festival titles, banner titles take in Catherine Deneuve drama “Peaceful,” from Emmanuelle Bercot, and Cédric Jimenez’s French crime thriller “Bac Nord.” The two films both screen out of competition.