To kick off the last week of January 2010 we have news that a couple of quite highly anticipated films around these parts have been picked up for distribution by different studios: The Robert Rodriguez directed/co-written exploitation film, Machete, has landed at 20th Century Fox and the "Ryan Reynolds in a box" thriller, Buried, has been picked up by Lionsgate. Read on for the details.
After a bidding war for Robert Rodriguez' latest film, Machete, 20th Century Fox emerged the victor. Fox now has the domestic distribution rights to the film, beating out other studios like Paramount and Lionsgate (amongst others). In case you're not familiar with the name, Machete was originally one of the faux trailers found in Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's exploitation throwback, Grindhouse. Along with Eli Roth's trailer Thanksgiving, Machete was the only one I think could have been fleshed out (pardon the pun) into a full length feature (Roth is also making Thanksgiving into one).
The film has a wild and diverse cast featuring Danny Trejo as the titular blade wielding Machete, Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Jessica Alba, Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey and Don Johnson. That's a strange but nonetheless great cast right there. I can't wait to see what sort of dynamic they have together; pairing folks like Lohan and Alba could either be a stroke of genius or a completely disastrous decision on Rodriguez's part). Rodriguez has co-written the script along with long-time editor, Ethan Maniquis.
With Fox now handling domestic distribution and Sony taking care of international distribution, it's now confirmed we'll see Machete properly released in theaters instead of going straight-to-DVD or getting a limited "blink and you'll miss it" run. With the financial bombing of Grindhouse it was somewhat of a surprise that any studio wanted to touch a film which resembled the double-feature (heck, it was spun-off of it). Then again, I'm guessing Machete's budget didn't hit anywhere near that of Grindhouse (which cost $70 million to make).
In the first major acquisition at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Lionsgate won a bidding war with other studios for the North American distribution rights to the Ryan Reynolds thriller, Buried. We posted the trailer for Buried just recently; the film is about a private contractor who is kidnapped while in Iraq and buried alive. Supposedly, most of the movie is Reynolds in a box, so the Green Lantern star will have to bust out some serious acting chops for that to work for a whole movie.
Prexy of acquisitions and co-productions at Lionsgate, Jason Constantine, had this to say about the movie - "Buried is one of the tightest, most intense thrillers we've ever seen, and we were absolutely determined to bring it home to Lionsgate." The director of the film, Rodrigo Cortes, said that the deal with Lionsgate will ensure that the film will be released with the strongest possible impact - "So it's a very natural fit." Insiders say that Lionsgate paid in the area of $3 to $4 million for the rights.
Buried being picked up so fast (it only premiered at Sundance on Saturday) defies the recent trend of buyers taking longer and longer to pick up films at festivals. However, even with things being slow at this year's festival, there are a couple of new trends: Major Hollywood studios are weighing in and picking things up, with prints even being flown back to Los Angeles of films that are getting big buzz, with a recent example being the film HappyThankYouMorePlease, which caught the eye of Warner Bros. Also, filmmakers are stepping up to make sure the audiences watching their films are enthusiastic enough to encourage buyers.
I'm glad Buried will be getting the release treatment it deserves. From the trailers and the clip we posted it looks tense as hell, and I can't wait to see how Reynolds holds his own for a whole movie that's just him in a box. I just wonder how they'll make it stand out from other films and TV shows that have used the same technique: Quentin Tarantino used it twice in recent years, with Kill Bill Vol.2 and the episode of C.S.I. he directed entitled "Grave Danger." I'll definitely be seeing Buried in theaters, as it seems like that's where you'd feel the impact of it most.
Are you glad both Machete and Buried have been picked up for distribution? Will you be seeing them both in theaters? Which of the two are you most interested in?
We'll let you know when both Machete and Buried get release dates.