Scheduled to start shooting next week for an uncharacteristically slight budget of just $5 million, Roland Emmerich's next film was to be The Zone, a "found footage" film that would take him back to the alien invasion subgenre of Independence Day. Very little was known about the picture, but it seemed to have been cast with unknowns who would use improvisation to flesh out their scenes. As you might expect, two of the lead characters were to be a journalist and a cameraman.
But will it go ahead at all? At the moment, it's not looking too good. The Hollywood Reporter bring news that the picture has been nixed, and they provide their best guesses as to why:
Two factors may be in play: One, the found-footage trope is becoming overplayed, and two, Zone would have been released a scant weeks after another found-footage sci-fi movie.
"This is not a project (Emmerich) is pursuing at this time," was the comment issued from the director's camp.
Becoming overplayed? That's charitable.
The other "found-footage sci-fi movie" in question would be Apollo 18. A Timur Bekmambetov production, this made headlines on Deadline yesterday:
Bob Weinstein met several times with Bekmambetov before making a deal that came after Bekmambetov presented film footage purported to have been shot by the crew of Apollo 18. That moon mission from the early 70s was officially canceled by NASA, but according to urban legend, it actually happened. Timur's footage shows signs of alien life, and the events of the mission are built into a thriller story line. The film so far has been a well kept secret but would have to be well underway to be ready for release five months from now.
"Well underway" trumps "about to get going", so it seems plausible that Emmerich's movie may have hit the can because it was just too similar to another picture. But who decided to dump it? Producers that wouldn't even gamble $5 million on a new alien invasion movie from the Independence Day guy? Or Emmerich himself?