Oren Peli and co. pact with distributor on low-budget pics
“Paranormal Activity” team Oren Peli, Jason Blum and Steven Schneider have inked a five-picture deal with leading Canadian distrib Alliance Films to finance and produce low-budget genre pics.Pact kicks off with horror title “Insidious,” from “Saw” creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Wan beings lensing in Los Angeles this spring from a script by Whannell. Alliance will release the films in Canada, the U.K. and Spain. CAA, which brokered the deal, will team with Alliance in repping domestic rights. Stuart Ford’s IM Global will handle international sales and will shop “Insidious” to foreign buyers at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin. Domestic rights are still available. “ ’Paranormal’ taught us to do more with less, and this fund embodies that model. We are particularly thrilled to kick off the fund with James and Leigh,” Blum said. Wan said he and Whannell were drawn to work with Peli, Blum and Schneider because “of their passion for genre films and having the creative control to make auteur-driven pictures.” Wan directed the original “Saw,” as well as co-writing with Whannell. Storyline for “Insidious” is being kept under wraps, other than Wan saying “Leigh wrote a fantastic script that took a haunted house movie with all the usual conventions and twisted it on its head.” Last fall, Blum, Peli and Schneider made box office history with “Paranormal Activity.” Film was directed by Peli and produced by Blum for under $15,000. Schneider exec produced. DreamWorks (then owned by Paramount) picked up rights to “Paranormal,” with a particular interest in remaking the film. Par ultimately decided to release the film as it was. “Paranormal” grossed $107.9 million domestically and north of $70 million overseas for a worldwide total of nearly $178 million to date. Film’s strong international showing helped to further chip away the perception that horror doesn’t travel well beyond the U.S. “Paranormal” has yet to be released in Japan and Italy. Blum and Alliance are confident that the same appetite will exist for “Insidious,” and the four other titles called for under their deal. “I’ve known Jason for many years now,” Alliance prexy Charles Layton said. “While ‘Paranormal’ may have been an industry surprise, his success is not a surprise at all. We’re very pleased to be working with Oren, Steven and Jason now and for the long term.” Deal is a reunion of sorts for Layton, Blum and Ford. “I am very happy to be back in business with Stuart and Charles, old colleagues from my days at Miramax,” Blum said.