Area 51 filmed and sold
Oren Peli, the man behind the unusual hit Paranormal Activity (Filmstalker review)has apparently already filmed Area 51 and brought it in under budget at around US $5 million, and that's a hell of a leap from the US $11,000 that Paranormal Activity took to make.
What's really interesting about the story is that the film has already been bought for global distribution, barring Japan and some Eastern European markets, it would seem though talks are ongoing for these markets too. 2010 seems a great year for Peli.
While I wasn't enamoured with Paranormal Activity (Filmstalker review), it just didn't scare me and the male lead turned me off to any emotional connection, I could appreciate what it was doing and why people would see it as scary. I could also appreciate what he had done with such a small budget.
Now Area 51 is under extreme pressure. His first film sold on marketing and hype, and I'm sure if it had been released with the standard studio distribution then it wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful, and yet it was released that way, and it did make a lot of money for the studio, so much so that they are gushing over the film and talking franchises and independent, etc, etc. Things that sound very reminiscent of when The Blair Witch Project first arrived on the scene.
I really do wonder though if Area 51 is going to be able to live up to the level now expected from Peli, or if, like the Blair Witch creators, he's going to find himself drowning under expectation and marketing.
One of my biggest concerns is that the new film is using the same “trick” as Paranormal Activity, the found footage idea, and it's going to feature the twists and turns we've seen in so many films that use this as its core.
Of course in the first film he produced he came up with some clever aspects, even if it was slightly unbelievable that the characters would remain together and remain in the house with everything that was happening to them, and it continually broke the spell with the post-production warning bass of events to come and the voice to camera moment.
Still, second film, new things learned, and perhaps new twists to come. I would hope that it doesn't fall on familiar ground and the Oren Peli really does have something new to offer us in this genre, there was a lot of promise in Paranormal Activity.
The story from Variety tells us that his first film has made over US $107 million in the US alone, which is a huge profit when you take off the meagre budget, and one the production and distribution companies will be hoping to see for the next film. Good or bad, audiences will go to see it I'm sure.
With principal photography completed some three weeks ago, a release date is set for some time in 2010, and then we'll make our judgement on the found footage of three teenagers who somehow make their way into Area 51.