Feeding off the unprecedented success of Paranormal Activity, Paramount Pictures is gearing up to spearhead another innovative idea. Led by the creative minds of Senior VP of Interactive Marketing, Amy Powell, the division will focus specifically on “micro-budget” movies. And when they say micro, they mean just that. The idea is to give Insurge Pictures $1 million to create 10 films.

There is no question this is an ingenious idea and a compelling challenge. What’s a million dollars to a big-budget picture studio? It’s nothing, and if this concept fails, nobody will even need to bat an eyelash. The question, then, is how can it fail?

Marketing a film has taken on an entirely new shape in only the last few years, and Paramount has been leading the charge. The viral campaign of Cloverfield was overwhelming and captivating. The massive amount of promotional material created for Watchmen gave fans new looks on a weekly basis. Now, in the shadow of one of the most profitable movies ever made, the studio has decided to give more underdogs a chance at the sword.

The new division isn’t just an in-house idea, but more of a test of the human desire for something fresh. Insurge Pictures has a website days away from opening, a Twitter page, and a handful of one-liners:

“Do you want to see more movies that don’t conform to the Hollywood model? Sweet, us too.”

“We love talking about everyone else’s movies, so we decided it would be awesome to create a new distribution label to find and share our own movies with all of you. And here we are – Insurge Pictures, an official division of Paramount Pictures.”

This whole idea is reminiscent of the reality TV binge. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a television studio makes a show for a fraction of a budget, and audiences love it. Naturally, every other studio follows in the footsteps and out came the likes of The Real World and Survivor, to name a couple. The reality television world came from nothing and maybe shouldn’t even exist, but audiences are passionate and don’t even really know why, and it’s costing studios nearly nothing to make. This move by Paramount Pictures is practically replicating that cultural shift. I expect other studios are not far behind. It’s befitting a revolution like this to name the division Insurge.

That camera costs half the movie's budget

There’s no question audiences love Paramount’s big-budget films like Iron Man, Transformers, and even G.I. Joe. Regardless of the product, people flock to explosions and money and sexuality. When a $15,000 film like Paranormal Activity finally got its chance, the response was overwhelming. But at this point, it’s still too soon to tell if the hysteria was caused by the movie itself, or the masses hoping to see a movie they could make on their own.

The big question now is whether or not it was a one-hit wonder. The horror genre constantly suffers the same fate movie after movie. If the fans loved it once, they’ll love it five times, right? Paranormal Activity 2 is already set for a 2010 release, which makes it an instant franchise.

So, I leave you with this question: Was the original success really a product of the people wanting to see a low-budget film, or was it the result of brilliant marketing and timely word-of-mouth for a film the people just flat out enjoyed?

Source:  indieWIRE (via First Showing)

Header image also courtesy of First Showing.