U drops Zombie’s ‘Corpses’

Deal marks one of first times a studio has publicly distanced itself from a violent pic

Writer-director Rob Zombie’s $7 million horror film “House of 1,000 Corpses” has been dropped from Universal Pictures’ summer release slate, and distribution rights to the movie have been returned to Zombie, the studio confirmed Wednesday.

Universal said Tuesday it planned to drop the film from its release schedule because Zombie’s contract required him to produce an R-rated film and the studio doesn’t think the pic is likely to garner that rating from the MPAA board.

“We anticipate an NC-17 rating for the picture, which would unfortunately be at odds with our motion picture releasing strategy,” Universal motion picture chairwoman Stacey Snider said.

“Stacey and I sat down and talked, and decided that the best move was for me to get the movie back and find a new home for it,” Zombie said.

“Corpses” marks one of the first times a studio has publicly distanced itself from a violent film since the Senate Commerce Committee and the Federal Trade Commission attacked the marketing of such pics to minors.

“House of 1,000 Corpses” is about two young couples whose car breaks down in a town filled with homicidal lunatics. A family of freaky slashers tortures and kills the youths in the graphic climax. The film started production last May and was completed in January.

“We made a commitment to Rob to allow him full creative control over ‘House of 1,000 Corpses.’ We were familiar with his prior work, and find him to be immensely talented and versatile,” Snider said. “The resulting film is a significant accomplishment for Rob, yet there is a visceral tone and intensity that we did not imagine from the printed page.”

Rather than demand a new edit of the movie, the studio agreed to relinquish the distribution rights to Zombie, who will now look for new distribution.

Zombie has sold millions of records for Universal’s Geffen Records label, first as leader of the band White Zombie and later as a solo artist.

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