As it nears a worldwide gross of $200M, producers of the smash hit horror Smile have tapped Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil director Eli Craig to helm their latest horror Clown in a Cornfield, it was announced today by Protagonist Pictures CEO Dave Bishop. Protagonist is launching worldwide sales on the hot market title and will introduce to buyers at the upcoming AFM.

Carter Blanchard is adapting Adam Cesare’s Bram Stoker Award-winning novel of the same name, which instantly topped Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s bestseller lists. A classic YA slasher thriller, Clown in a Cornfield centers on a fading midwestern town, in which Frendo the clown – a symbol of bygone success – reemerges as a terrifying scourge. A sequel, Clown in A Cornfield II: Frendo Lives, has been published in August this year, and a third instalment is already in the works.

Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, who have emerged as a force in the YA market with credits including Smile, The Maze Runner franchise, Love, Simon, and the megahit Twilight franchise, will produce. Petersen Harris, George Berman, and John Fischer are overseeing the project at Temple Hill.

“We love Eli Craig’s brand of scary fun and are thrilled to be working with him on this terrifying slasher adaptation that is both timely and timeless,” said Temple Hill producers in a joint statement.

“Nostalgia driven, elevated horrors that deliver on the promise of the genre – thrilling action, heart-stopping suspense and deeply satisfying endings – continue to dominate at the global box-office,” said Bishop. “Our friends at Temple Hill are masters of taking this critical formula and creating wholly original stories that surprise, delight and gratify audiences and Eli is the perfect visionary to bring this special project to its full potential.”

Craig’s Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil became a cult success and he directed the dark comedy Little Evil starring Adam Scott and Evangeline Lilly for Netflix. He is currently developing for Blumhouse and Red Hour Corporate Retreat.


Protagonist Pictures is a sales, finance, and production company with a proven track record in outstanding films and commercial successes. Based in the UK, the company handles films from around the world, always maintaining a strong focus on filmmakers with exceptional vision and storytelling skills.

Current sales titles include Raymond De Felitta’s Artist in Residence starring Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia and Josh Hutcherson, Peter Craig’s Wild Four O’Clocks starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Rebecca Miller’s She Came to Me, starring Anne Hathaway, Peter Dinklage, Marisa Tomei and Joanna Kulig, the underwater thriller The Dive by Maximilian Erlenwein, BAFTA Award-winning writer-director Mark Jenkin’s highly anticipated psychological-horror Enys Men, which had its worldwide premiere in Directors Fortnight, and War Pony, the directorial debut from Riley Keough and Gina Gammell, that had its worldwide premiere in Un Certain Regard and won the Camera D’Or.

Other titles include Phyllis Nagy’s Call Jane, starring Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver, which premiered in Sundance and Berlin in 2022, Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas starrer Official Competition, by directing duo Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, which premiered in Venice in 2021, the 2021 Nordic supernatural thriller The Innocents which premiered in Cannes at Un Certain Regard, Censor, the opening night film of the Midnight section at Sundance 2021, directed by Prano Bailey-Bond and starring Niamh Algar – both Screen International 2018 Stars of Tomorrow alumni, Ben Wheatley’s In The Earth, starring Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Hayley Squires, and Reece Shearsmith – also a Sundance 2021 title, Limbo, directed by Ben Sharrock and starring Amir El-Masry, Saint Maud, from Screen’s 2018 Stars of Tomorrow writer/director Rose Glass and starring Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle, Sound of Metal, directed by Darius Marder, starring Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke.