Screenwriter Michael R. Perry and director Kevin Greutert have been hired to create the sequel to 2009's biggest surprise hit, Paranormal Activity, the Heat Vision blog reports.
Paramount will release the film on the pre-Halloween weekend of Oct. 22, pitting it against Lionsgate's next installment in the Saw franchise.
In a symbolic twist, Heat Vision notes, Greutert made his directorial debut on the sixth Saw film.
Jason Blum and Oren Peli, who masterminded the first Activity, are producing the second scarer. Steven Schneider will serve as executive producer.
"These guys get it, and the fans won't be disappointed," said Peli of Perry and Greutert's participation.
Perry is a longtime TV writer-producer (Millennium, The Guardian) whose spec feature script, The Voices, landed in the third slot on the 2009 Black List.
Greutert was the editor of the first five films in the Saw series before directing last year's sixth edition.
Hollywood is puzzling, The New York Times says, over just what the next film from Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli is really worth.
CAA and IM Global are said to be scrambling to sell U.S. rights to Peli's next movie, Area 51, before the week is out. At least six companies, including several major studios, have expressed interest.
But, excitement over a potentially hot property is being tempered by caution at seeing traditional industry economics quickly inflate the price, and perhaps lower the profit potential, of what on the surface appears to be another guerrilla-style property from Peli, the NYT says.
Paranormal's story is now legendary: ultra low-budget thriller gets university screenings as Paramount conducts Web campaign encouraging audience demand, release continues to expand, film picks up $22 million in fifth weekend to beat a stalwart franchise for the top spot and is now poised to do similar -- or better -- repeat business as Halloween weekend approaches.
To date, the film has earned $62.5 million.
Paramount, however, is out of the bidding for Peli's follow-up. "We are not in active discussions to buy Area 51," a Paramount spokeswoman told the NYT.
DreamWorks -- whose executives brought Paranormal Activity to Paramount during their tenure there -- Overture and Lionsgate have not been active bidders for Area 51 either, the paper says citing people involved with the sale.
Area 51 producer Jason Blum had no comment for the Times. Stuart Ford, chief executive of IM Global, also declined to discuss Area 51. Missy Davy, a spokeswoman for CAA confirmed that her company was representing the film but did not elaborate.
Area 51 cost a little less than $5 million and Ford has been looking for bids of $10 million or more for domestic rights. DreamWorks and Paramount paid only about $300,000 for Paranormal Activity.
One issue with the new film is that studios will not be able to push it as a sleeper hit since Peli is now so high on everyone's radar.
"In a world of grass-roots wildfires, Hollywood realized that this would not have the same force without the underlying buzz -- the confusion between reality and drama -- that the rough original film clearly delivered," entertainment lawyer Peter Dekom, who is also co-author of Not on My Watch: Hollywood vs. the Future, told the NYT.
A deal would be expected, and desired, prior to next week's American Film Market when international distributors will be circling. Some distribs who picked up Paranormal have been moving release dates up in order to capitalize on the ruckus the film is making in the States and it will be interesting to see how foreign sales go for Area 51 given that Paranormal's international rollout doesn't begin in earnest until mid-November.
Top Story: Sony Eyes Sandler for High-Concept Script
Sony Pictures has paid a whopping $1.75 million for Click, a spec script by Bruce Almighty scribes Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe, as a possible starring vehicle for Adam Sandler. According to Variety, the film is about an overworked advertising executive who neglects his family in favor of his career and whose life changes when he comes across a universal remote that allows him to rewind, pause and fast-forward his life. Veteran producer Neal Moritz, the man behind such actioners as 2 Fast 2 Furious and xXx, will produce through his Sony-based Original Film with Revolution Studios co-producing and co-financing the project. Click would reunite Koren with Sandler, who worked together on Saturday Night Live. Moritz, who hopes to begin production in 2004, told Variety, "I would love for Adam to do this."
Charleton Heston Gets Medal of Freedom
Academy Award winner Charlton Heston, best known for his roles in The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur and Planet of the Apes, was awarded the Medal of Freedom Wednesday by President Bush, Reuters reports. The 79-year-old actor and voice of the pro-gun National Rifle Association made public last year that he had symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, a degenerative brain ailment. Master chef Julia Child and the late Dave Thomas, Wendy's hamburger mogul and philanthropist, also received Medals of Freedom--the nation's highest civilian award.
Ice Cube Gets Apology
The Chicago Police Department has apologized for issuing a community alert last Sunday describing a man suspected in a series of sexual assaults as a dead ringer for hip-hop artist and actor Ice Cube. According to The Associated Press, a local Chicago TV station broadcast one of Ice Cube's videos when it reported the story Monday night. Police spokesman David Bayless said Tuesday, "We acknowledged the information should not have been on the alert. We took immediate corrective action. We apologize to Ice Cube for what was an honest mistake and came with no ill intent." The community alert was reissued without the Ice Cube reference.
McCartney Joins PETA's Efforts Against KFC
Paul McCartney wrote an open letter advertisement to KFC's Louisville-based parent company, Yum! Brands Inc., calling for an improvement in the treatment of 750 million chickens raised annually for KFC restaurants. The ad, the latest action by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to force KFC to implement new standards for the treatment of chickens after security cameras revealed workers torturing the animals, appears in a full-page advertisement in Thursday's edition of the Louisville The Courier-Journal. Jonathan Blum, senior vice president for public affairs for Yum! Brands, responsed: "While PETA would prefer a world of vegetarians, most people disagree, so we think PETA should follow one of Sir Paul's songs and just 'Let It Be.'"
FX's Nip/Tuck a Cut Above the Rest
FX's premiere of the plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck got a nice slice of the Nielsen pie Tuesday, beating MTV's The Real World and Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in the 10 p.m. time slot night to become the highest-rated new cable series premiere of the year with an impressive 3.7 million viewers. According to Reuters, Nip cut FX's recent losing streak on the original-series front after the half-hour comedy Lucky and late-night series The Orlando Jones Show both flopped. The premiere, however, failed to top the series debut of FX's cop show The Shield and the second-season premiere of USA Network's Monk.
Diana's Love Letters Read in TV Doc
Love letters sent by the late Princess Diana to her former lover James Hewitt will be read out in a British television documentary Thursday night, Reuters reports. In Confessions of a Cad, Hewitt's lawyer and friend Michael Coleman reads extracts from the love letters Diana sent Hewitt during their affair, which began in the late 1980s. "Boy oh boy, does the earth shake when I get a letter from my desert friend, screams of delight, tears, you name it. Demented female on the loose, that's for sure," she wrote in one letter while Hewitt was serving in the 1991 Gulf War. Diana is believed to have sent Hewitt more than 60 letters between 1989 and 1991.
Serena Williams Swings Into Acting
Tennis pro Serena Williams is set to play a reformed gang member on parole in an Oct. 1 episode of Showtime's Street Time, the AP reports. The show, starring Rob Morrow, begins its second season Aug. 6. "As a fan of 'Street Time,' I told myself that if given the opportunity, I'd love to be on the show," Williams said Wednesday. "I am taking this role very seriously, because I want to excel and because I have respect for the series."
Role Call: Downey and Ryder Join Woody Allen Pic, Madonna Rocks with Peet
Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder are in talks to join the cast of Woody Allen's next pic for Fox Searchlight. Like all Allen films, the title, script and plot are being kept under wraps ... Ethan Hawke will direct a big-screen adaptation of his best-selling novel The Hottest State for IFC Films. The story follows two young adults as they discover intense love and grapple to define their passion for one another. No cast is attached yet ... Maverick Films has optioned the romantic comedy script She Rocks from filmmaker Amie Steir as a starring vehicle for Amanda Peet with Madonna serving as the film's executive producer. The project is described as Working Girl set in the music industry and revolves around a female music journalist who writes a career-making story about a rock star.