[Update: Production on Roland Emmerich's The Zone has been shut down. Scroll down for details.]
When the words Roland Emmerich and alien movie come together, most people don't think about low budgets and found footage. The director of Independence Day and 2012 is taking a step back to move forward with his next movie, The Zone.
Heat Vision has learned that Emmerich's The Zone won't be his usual FX blockbuster, but will utilize "genuine reels, tapes or files found after the person operating the camera expires." Basically, it will use the same tactics as Cloverfield, only now directed by the man who blew up The White House (in a movie).
Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity proved the found footage approach to narrative storytelling is not only effective, but lucrative. The two combined for nearly $350 million in profit for Paramount. It looks like Sony, who will distribute the movie, wants some of that pie.
No details on the story have been revealed, but we do know some details of the film's production. Emmerich will work with a $5 million budget, which is astounding considering his résumé. He hasn't filmed a movie for under $100 million since Stargate in 1994. Guillaume Tunzini has written the script and shooting should begin mid-November.
The cast of The Zone will consist of unknowns performing improvisational dialogue. Surely there will be some kind of shooting script, but this style of pre-production saves a ton of money - as does casting unknowns.
"Word is that two leads were just cast, one playing a haggard journalist in his 40s or 50s, the other a black man in his early to mid 20's, the cameraman."
Sony will release the picture as a negative pickup deal. That means it will be made separately from the studio, but Sony has agreed to purchase The Zone on a given date for a given price. All rights go to the studio, but net profits are split. If the film goes over budget, the difference lies on the independent producers, one of which is Loucas George (George Lucas' French alter-ego?). Hopefully, Emmerich can restrain himself and develop something truly unique and entertaining.
Considering his last film involved sinking the entire city of Los Angeles, this will definitely be a compelling challenge for Emmerich. But given the advancements in technology, this is more than possible to pull off. If the Strause brothers can make Skyline for a low-budget, why can't one of the most legendary disaster movie directors of all time do it?
Be on the lookout for another low-budget monster/alien movie this month called Monsters. It is a fantastic film that we gave a 4 out of 5 star review. Just don't expect Emmerich to go for the atmospheric, tense thriller over the explosive action-packed roller coaster with The Zone.
Does this sound like your kind of movie? Do you think Emmerich can stay under the $5 million umbrella? Discuss in the comments section below.
Update: THR is reporting that production on The Zone has been shut-down - with Emmerich's people stating, "This is not a project (Emmerich) is pursuing at this time."
THR offers two possible reasons: audiences may be tiring of the found-footage genre and/or The Zone was scheduled to share a release window with another sci-fi movie (also featuring a found-footage angle) - the Timur Bekmambetov production Apollo 18.
Source: Heat Vision
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