Preternatural film making got a boost recently when Lionsgate announced that two of the three films being produced under the company’s microbudget production initiative will have supernatural themes. The post-apocalyptic comedy RAPTUREPALOOZA and 6 MIRANDA DRIVE, a supernatural thriller, have both been greenlighted for production with budgets of less than $2 million.
“When we look at the films that have broken out over the past few years, its clear that movie-goers are hungry for fresh stories told in bold ways. That means big, distinctive concepts, but it also means focusing on the humanity of the story,” explains Matt Kaplan who has been charged with identifying the most promising projects for Lionsgate’s new microbudget production initiative. “All the movies we greenlight will push the envelope of what we’ve seen on-screen. The low-budget aspect definitely imposes some constraints, but also forces us to find our value in great characters, explosive situations and excellent writing. And we’re excited that some of the best in the creative community are eager to jump in with us.”
RAPTUREPALOOZA takes a comedic look at life after a religious apocalypse. Written by Chris Matheson, this film, which has been described as Zombieland meets The Big Lebowski begins production this spring. Both Matheson and the film’s star, Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express, Hot Tub Time Machine, Knocked Up), are at the helm as executive producers. Acclaimed commercial director Paul Middleditch is directing. RAPTUREPALOOZA is being produced by Mosaic (Bad Teacher, The Other Guys) and Ed Solomon.
Based on true events, 6 MIRANDA DRIVE is a supernatural thriller from Greg Mclean who wrote and directed the cult horror classic film Wolf Creek. The film follows a family that unwittingly brings a malevolent supernatural force home with them from vacation. Feeding off the family’s fears, the evil presence threatens to destroy them from within, taking over their lives and home with terrifying results in the vein of Poltergeist. Mosaic is producing along with writer/director Mclean.
Lionsgate expects most of the films produced as part of its microbudget initiative to fall into either the comedy or horror genres. Both genres are sweet spots for the company and historically driven more by concept and execution than budget. Lionsgate will look to feature predominantly minority casts in many of the projects as well, continuing their excellent track record of connecting with underserved urban audiences. Several films will also be shot in 3D.
“The productions will function as an incubator for promising new actors and filmmakers,” enthused Lionsgate President of Motion Picture Production and Development Michael Paseomek in announcing the first three films to be funded. “They will experience the best of both the independent and studio worlds — the freedom to make the movies they envision, but with the infrastructure, support and guidance of our studio behind them. We expect this arrangement to translate not only into some great films with the potential to really break through, but into productive ongoing talent and filmmaker relationships that could pay off in lots of different ways down the road.”
Lionsgate microbudget initiative was inspired by and modeled on the runaway success of previous microbudget properties like The Blair Witch Project and the Saw franchise. The goal for all these films is a similar breakout theatrical success. Lionsgate will also backstop each picture through its home entertainment, international and digital distribution businesses, as well as leveraging its library as a platform for some of the films which may take the form of remakes or sequels to existing brands and properties.
Up to ten films will be produced each year under the microbudget umbrella, which was conceived and structured by Sean Kisker, Lionsgate’s EVP of Strategic Planning and Operations.
“Microbudget films involve minimal overhead and very little risk, but potentially high reward,” explains Joe Drake, President of the Motion Picture Group at Lionsgate. “This initiative allows us to add another layer to our slate of movies that work both financially and creatively.”