Paramedic Thriller ‘Black Flies’ Starring Sean Penn & Tye Sheridan Renamed ‘Asphalt City’ As Vertical And Roadside Set North American Release

EXCLUSIVEVertical and Roadside Attractions have co-acquired North American rights from Sculptor Media to Asphalt City, a verité paramedic thriller starring Sean Penn (Milk) and Tye Sheridan (The Card Counter), that world premiered in competition at last year’s Cannes Film Festival under the title Black Flies.

Helmed by French filmmaker Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire (A Prayer Before Dawn) from a screenplay by Ryan King (The Tutor) and Ben Mac Brown, the film based on Shannon Burke’s same-name 2008 novel is slated to debut exclusively in theaters beginning March 29th. Others opening then include Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and Kino Lorber doc On the Adamant.

Pic follows Ollie Cross (Sheridan), a young paramedic assigned to the night shift alongside uncompromising and seasoned New York City EMT, Gene Rutkovsky (Penn). The dark nights reveal a city in crisis; Rutkovsky guides Cross, as each 911 call is often dangerous and uncertain, putting their lives on the line every day to help others. Cross soon discovers firsthand the chaos and awe of a job that careens from harrowing to heartfelt, testing his relationship with Rutkovsky and the ethical ambiguity that can be the difference between life and death.

Rounding out the cast of Asphalt City are Gbenga Akkinagbe (Fast Charlie), Raquel Nave (Bizarre Again), Kali Reis (True Detective: Night Country), Michael C. Pitt (Ghost in the Shell), Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore), and Mike Tyson (The Hangover).

A Sculptor Media Production, in association with Projected Picture Works, AZA Films, Two & Two Pictures, and Dogwood Pictures, the film was produced by Warren Goz, Eric Gold, Christopher Kopp, Lucan Toh, Penn, John Ira Palmer, John Wildermuth, Sheridan, and Tina Wang. The executive producers are James Masciello, Matthew Sidari, Mitchell Zhang, Sauvaire, Jamie Buckner, Luke Rodgers, Shannon Burke, Babak Anvari, and King. FilmNation Entertainment is handling international sales.

Stated Sculptor Media’s CEO, Goz: “We are pleased to be working with Vertical and Roadside Attractions as their reputation precedes them. Jean-Stéphane’s unique style of filmmaking is all-encompassing and we look forward to the collaboration to bring this exceptional film to audiences this Spring.”

Roadside Attractions Co-Presidents Eric d’Arbeloff and Howard Cohen shared that they were “deeply moved by the incredible portrait of EMT life on the streets in New York that is the heart of Asphalt City. Director Jean-Stephane and stars Tye Sheridan and Sean Penn together deliver an unforgettable work of visceral power about these unsung heroes of urban life.”

Added Vertical Partner Peter Jarowey, “We are thrilled to be working with the team at Sculptor Media and always look forward to partnering with Roadside Attractions, so snapping up Asphalt City was a win-win for us. Tye and Sean deliver such raw, intense performances that truly draw the viewer into the heroism EMTs exhibit, but also explore the dark underside of having to walk the line between life and death every day.”

Vertical and Roadside came to team on the release for Asphalt City following recent collaborations on Emily the CriminalBenediction, and The Pod Generation. Also due for release via the pair later this year is Karim Aïnouz’s Firebrand, starring Jude Law and Alicia Vikander.

Jarowey and SVP of Acquisitions Tony Piantedosi negotiated the deal on behalf of Vertical, with Cohen and VP of Acquisitions Angel An on behalf of Roadside, and WME Independent and CAA Media Finance on behalf of the production.