‘The Backrooms’ Horror Film Based On Viral Shorts By 17-Year-Old Kane Parsons In Works At A24, Atomic Monster, Chernin & 21 Laps (2024)

EXCLUSIVE: Over the last year, director and VFX artist Kane Parsons has shot his YouTube following into the stratosphere with the viral success of his mysterious short, “The Backrooms (Found Footage).” It’s the first in a series of found-footage horror videos which have thus far garnered nearly 100 million views and will now be adapted for the big screen by A24, Atomic Monster, Chernin Entertainment and 21 Laps.

Parsons — who’s just 17 years old — will direct from a script by Roberto Patino (DMZ). He’ll just have to wait till his summer vacation.

Details as to the plot of the sci-fi horror feature are under wraps. But in the ’90s-set original short (which you can view below), a young filmmaker’s fall into another dimension leaves him wandering through an unsettlingly yellow, empty and labyrinthine office space, which may or may not be home to otherworldly beings. The film’s title and setting draw inspiration from the imagery of a creepypasta (or internet urban legend) published to the website 4chan in 2019.

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Deadline hears that A24 was one of several suitors chasing the Backrooms feature pitch, though what their price point was at closing is unclear. Lucas Ford brought the project to 21 Laps, with Chris White bringing it to Atomic Monster. Chernin Entertainment and A24 will co-finance.

Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen and Dan Levine will produce for 21 Laps, along with James Wan and Michael Clear for Atomic Monster, and Patino. Alayna Glasthal will oversee for Atomic Monster, with Judson Scott exec producing for the company, alongside White.

Parsons has thus far helmed 16 entries in the Backrooms YouTube series — with his most recent entry, “Backrooms – Damage Control,” having been uploaded just days ago. Little else is known about the NorCal-based filmmaker, though he’s also previously created a number of animated videos inspired by the manga, Attack on Titan. He launched his YouTube channel, under the name Kane Pixels, in 2015.

Patino is a two-time Emmy nominee best known as the creator and showrunner of DMZ — a limited series, based on the dystopian comic books by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, which bowed on HBO Max last March. He also exec produced the show, starring Rosario Dawson and Benjamin Bratt, alongside Ava DuVernay. The writer, under an overall deal with Netflix, exec produced and wrote on the first two seasons of HBO’s Westworld and was previously a writer-producer on FX’s Sons of Anarchy.

Aquaman and The Conjuring filmmaker James Wan founded the leading genre-focused production company Atomic Monster in 2014. The banner most recently released the horror smash M3GAN, which has grossed nearly $150MM worldwide and spawned a sequel in a little less than a month. Other upcoming projects for the company include Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which Wan directed and produced; an adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, starring Lewis Pullman, Alfre Woodard, and Bill Camp; New Line’s The Nun 2, starring Taissa Farmiga and Storm Reid; and the Untitled Ian McCulloch Project, a series for Peaco*ck, which it will exec produce.

Among the upcoming film releases for Chernin Entertainment — the esteemed banner of producer Peter Chernin — is a Netflix continuation of the Idris Elba series Luther, titled Luther: The Fallen Sun, which will hit limited theaters on February 24 before bowing on the streamer on March 10. Also in the works is a feature adaptation of the popular DC comic, Hour Man. Recent releases include Netflix’s fantasy Slumberland starring Jason Momoa, and the third seasons of the Apple series See and Truth Be Told.

Stranger Things EP Shawn Levy’s company 21 Laps will on June 2ndrelease its adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “The Boogeyman.” While the 20th film was initially set for a Hulu streaming release, it wound up testing well enough to make the pivot to theaters.The company will see the second season of its Netflix series Shadow and Bone released on March 16. Additional upcoming projects include the film Crater and a reboot of Alexander and the Terrible, No Good Very Bad Day for Disney+; the horror Mother Land for Lionsgate; the Levy-directed Netflix limited series All the Light We Cannot See, based on the Pulitzer-winning, global bestseller; and the recently announced Gnomes, based on the breakout horror short from Dutch filmmakers Richard Raaphorst and Ruwan Heggelman.

The indie studio A24 is coming off a pivotal year with Daniels’ daring martial arts metaverse pic Everything Everywhere All at Once, which last spring established itself as A24’s highest-grossing film and first to pass the $100MM milestone at the worldwide box office. The film, led by Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, also recently notched 11 Oscar nominations — the most of any film in contention — setting the studio up to lead in overall noms for the first time, at a tally of 18.

Films coming up for release by A24 include Hereditary helmer Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid, starring Joaquin Phoenix; Celine Song’s acclaimed directorial debut Past Lives, which world premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival; and the documentary Stephen Curry: Underrated, which also debuted at the Park City, UT festival. Upcoming TV projects from the company include Park Chan-Wook’s Robert Downey Jr. starrer The Sympathizer for HBO, and Lee Sung Jin’s Beef, starring Steven Yeun and Ali Wong, for Netflix.

Parsons is repped by 3 Arts Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham. Patino is with WME, 3 Arts and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman.

‘The Backrooms’ Horror Film Based On Viral Shorts By 17-Year-Old Kane Parsons In Works At A24, Atomic Monster, Chernin & 21 Laps (2024)
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