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Paramount to produce more micro-budget films

Studio will spend $1 million annually to develop 10 to 20 films

Seeking to replicate the stunning success of “Paranormal Activity,” Paramount’s launching an initiative that will spend $1 million annually to develop and produce microbudget films.

Move, unveiled Thursday, is designed to place between 10 and 20 projects in development by the end of next year, with no individual budget topping $100,000.

Paramount Film Group prexy Adam Goodman, promoted to the slot in June, cooked up the plan in the successful wake of “Paranormal,” made for $15,000 and grossing more than $100 million domestically.

Goodman indicated the funds, which will come out of the studio’s overall production budget, will be targeted at both unknowns and established filmmakers, with the goal of increasing the studio’s ability to find new voices and ideas. In addition, the initiative’s aimed at giving Paramount a more diverse portfolio of titles at a time when Hollywood’s devoting most of its resources to megabudget pics, such as Par’s “Transformers” and “Star Trek” franchises.

The studio hasn’t set a target of how many projects would receive a theatrical release. The microbudget projects could also conceivably be remade with conventional budgets.

Paramount originally planned to release “Shutter Island” in early October but, citing costs, decided in late August to push that title back to February and opted for “Paranormal Activity” instead.

Par was able to make effective use of a low-cost grassroots release strategy, starting with a dozen midnight screenings of Oren Peli’s horror-thriller in college towns before launching a gradual rollout that built on strong word of mouth.

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