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in Filmmaking
on Oct 27, 2009

Though Oren Peli‘s Paranormal Activity was number one at the box office last weekend and has a total gross of $62 million since its release late last month (and is primed for a big upcoming Halloween weekend), The New York Times reports that the film’s overnight success hasn’t impressed Hollywood as Peli’s next film, Area 51, a $5 million horror set at the infamous UFO site, is still looking for a distributor.

An excerpt:

At least six companies, including several major studios, have expressed interest in the film, according to people associated with the deal for “Area 51,” who spoke on condition of anonymity because bidding is still open.

But it has been easier to find those who are not buying than those who are. Paramount, for instance, is out.

“We are not in active discussions to buy ‘Area 51,’ ” said Katie Martin Kelly, a Paramount spokeswoman.

Similarly, DreamWorks, whose executives brought “Paranormal Activity” to Paramount during their tenure there; Overture Films, which has a modest hit with “Law Abiding Citizen”; and Lionsgate, which has made money on lower-budget movies like the “Saw” series, have not been active bidders for “Area 51,” according to people who are involved with the sale but spoke on condition of anonymity to minimize interference with bidding.

Spokesmen for Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox either declined to comment or did not respond to queries.

So far, excitement over a potentially hot property is being tempered by caution at seeing traditional industry economics quickly push the price, and perhaps lower the profit potential, of what on the surface appears to be another guerrilla-style property from Mr. Peli.

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