Michael Bay isn't really a name that many people would associate with low-budget, high-concept movies (more the exact opposite of that, to be honest), but through Paramount Pictures and his own company Platinum Dunes, Bay bought a pitch for a $13 million dollar found-footage movie about time travel called Almanac, which is now in post-production and set for release in February 2014.
Paramount already has a massively profitable low-budget found-footage series on the go - the Paranormal Activity movies cost around $5 million to make and average a box office take of $180 million each time, turning this small investment into a tidy annual earner for the studio. Presumably Almanac is shaping up well in post-production, because Bay and Paramount have already decided to make a move on another project from the same writers.
Very little is known about Raindrop, the latest script from Almanac writers Jason Pagan and Andrew Stark, aside from the fact that it is also a high-concept sci-fi found-footage movie designed to be produced on a small budget. THR reports that Platinum Dunes and Paramount Pictures snapped up the pitch for Raindrop very quickly, though they may wait to see how well Almanac performs at the box office before pushing Raindrop into production. THR sources say that Raindrop is being envisioned with a slightly higher budget than Almanac.
It certainly is interesting to see this movement towards low-budget productions in a genre that traditionally places quite a lot of demands on special effects and therefore on a decent budget, but the appeal of the found footage aesthetic is one that is proving beneficial for filmmakers trying to get small, original sci-fi projects off the ground. Josh Trank's Chronicle set a precedent for such movies that we'll likely be seeing the influence of for several years to come, and if Almanac proves a success then it will bode well for the future of low-budget, high-concept sci-fi.
It''s nearly impossible to judge the potential merits of Almanac, or indeed of Raindrop, since no promotional materials or real details have yet been released for the former movie and both the writers and the director, Dean Israelite, are unknowns with no other feature films yet under their belts. The cast of Almanac features a smattering of vaguely recognizable faces, such as Jonny Weston from Chasing Mavericks and Gossip Girl's Sofia Black D'Elia, but it seems like the big draw for Almanac will be its concept - whatever that is.
If there's one thing that Bay is definitely good at, it's making money, so we'll definitely be keeping an eye on both Almanac and Raindrop to try and find out what kind of potential he saw in them.
Almanac is out in theaters on 28th February, 2014. We'll keep you updated on any further details about Raindrop.