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in Filmmaking
on Dec 10, 2009

Is the sky no longer falling? Off the huge success of the low-budget Paranormal Activity, Paramount has decided to launch a division dedicated to movies budgeted at less than $100,000.

According to the Los Angeles Times the studio plans to finance as many as 20 micro-budget movies annually starting in 2010. The division will not acquire films at film festivals or markets and its $2 million annual budget will be taken from Paramount’s existing production budget.

Though studios have tried and failed at doing boutique arms in the past, Paramount says not all of the projects in this division will be released theatrically and will operate like a development slate. Paramount will seek out both established filmmakers and newbies for the projects.

From the piece:

People familiar with the studio’s plans say some of the movies may end up serving as “calling cards” — a showcase of a novice director’s storytelling talent for a future project. A handful of films may contain enough good ideas to merit a bigger-budget remake. And another group may rise to the top of the heap, getting a theatrical release.

Because thousands of theaters are now equipped to show digital movies, the micro-budget productions can be distributed without the added expense of striking film prints, which can cost more than $1,000 apiece. Paramount also believes they can be marketed without costly television commercials, print advertisements and billboards, instead relying on the grass-roots word-of-mouth that helped propel “Paranormal Activity” to its huge profits. Some of the micro-budgeted movies could be released in just a handful of midnight screenings to gauge audience interest before a wider (and costlier) national release.

So has Oren Peli‘s $15,000 horror opened the doors of Hollywood to indies again?

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