Writer-director sets up details of horror follow-up

As Paramount Pictures broadens “Paranormal Activity” from underground midnight screenings to round-the-clock showings in 40 cities this weekend, writer-director Oren Peli has already scared up a start date and the financing for his follow-up.

He starts production next week on “Area 51,” which will employ the “found footage” narrative structure of his last film and tell the story of three teens whose curiosity leads them to the notorious “Area 51″ part of Nellis Air Force Base in the Nevada desert.

“Paranormal Activity” cost just $11,000; this time Peli will be working with a relatively whopping $5 million budget, with financing locked through Aramid Entertainment Fund and Incentive Filmed Entertainment. IM Global will handle worldwide sales, while CAA will shoot for a domestic deal.

Returning as producer is Jason Blum, who produced “Paranormal Activity” through his Blumhouse Prods. banner. Room 101’s Steven Schneider and IM Global topper Stuart Ford are executive producers.

“I’d rather not say anything about ‘Area 51′ except that I am very pleased to be working with the same team who stood by me for the two or three years it took ‘Paranormal Activity’ to get into theaters,” Peli said.

David Molner, chairman of Incentive and Aramid Capital Partners, said the early returns on “Paranormal Activity” reminded him of the word of mouth momentum built years ago by “The Blair Witch Project.”

“Everyone looks for a franchise, and we really think Incentive has found its first one in this new property from Oren and Jason,” Molner told Daily Variety. “These are two first-class talents.”

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