Last month we reported that Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli was starting production on his next big screen project Area 51. For those living in a cave or under a rock, Area 51 has long been the focus of much extraterrestrial conspiracy theory. Famed for being a hotbed of alien activity, whether it be spaceships or alien beings, Area 51 holds a special place in modern day pop lore (thanks in part to movies like Independence Day).
Well the script was supposed to be one of the secrets that no one would ever crack. *Snicker* Come on now! This is the 21st century; home to the internet (thanks Al Gore), Facebook, Twitter and 24 hour non-stop news, sports and games. Did they really think that a leak of some sort wasn’t going to happen? Our co-horts in cinema at Latino Review were visited in the night by an “owl” (named LEVLE) and when they woke up, he had left a mysterious package containing the script review at their bedside.
The problem is, the script review has been heavily edited by the military to remove all spoilers, but just like a military document released to the public – there are some nuggets of truth for us to gather and savor. There are four pages which you can look at after the jump before Big Brother makes us pull them down.
A lot of scripts are just early workings of a film and most never actually materialize on screen as they appear on paper. I remember years ago, AICN had a early review of a new Superman script. It sounded awesome but none of what was in the script was ever seen on screen. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Area 51 as the 43 page script/outline was labeled as a shooting draft dated 9/24/09.
Peli’s Area 51 will use the same “found footage” technique as his previous film, Paranormal Activity, and will star many undiscovered actors, to give the film a gritty and realistic feel. I have a small problem with that approach. It’s already been done at least 4 times that I have seen: The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, In Memorium and Paranormal Activity. The Fourth Kind also played at using real footage to try to tell the story. How many times are audiences willing to go back to that well before it runs dry?
It’s standard practice of any major studio to take an idea that wasn’t theirs and put their fat sloppy fingers in the pie and ruin it for everyone. Area 51 is a good example. True, the idea of the movie is all Oren Peli but the studio is no doubt going to give him a lot more to work with than $11,000. Will this hurt his creative process? Probably not; but I hope the studios aren’t expecting for Area 51 to become a viral sensation like Paranormal Activity.
PA became such a national hit because word of mouth on the movie spread quicker than herpes at a college frat party. It was new, it was different and most importantly, it was cheap. Area 51 will not have any of those characteristics. Here’s how I think Peli and the studio should have handled this project:
Start by releasing everything in small pieces as viral conspiracy websites devoted to uncovering Area 51 and by all means don’t give press releases announcing a new “alien film.” Keep it low key and let the web run its course. Slowly release YouTube videos of random people in and around the Nevada desert seeing “strange and unusual” lights in the sky. Maybe even post a Hi-Def video of “something” moving in the darkness chasing a cat or whatever.
Then as the release date gets closer, go more public and aggressive with the marketing. Show some “documentaries” on Discovery or History channel and maybe even get news shows in on the fun by going on the Today show and such for real interviews. Audiences worldwide would essentially be watching a yearlong event that would cumulate into a full blown alien encounter Orson Wells War of the Worlds style that would blow everyone’s mind.
Stuff like that obviously can’t happen now; but what if it did? How amazing of a movie would that make?
What did you think of the script treatment (blacked out for fun and to avoid spoilers) and what do you think the parties involved with Area 51 could have done to make this movie potentially different than its predecessors?
No release date has been set for Area 51 but production has already started.
Source: Latino Review