EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company won a bidding battle that went past Friday night and into the wee hours of Saturday morning for Apollo 18, an extraterrestrial film that is being creatively spearheaded by Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov. The picture, which is well into production and will be released March 4, 2011, shapes up as the next in a line of films that use a tinge of reality to launch into thriller story lines. Others include the Paranormal Activity films, the upcoming Oren Peli-directed Area 51, and the JJ Abrams-directed Super 8.
Harvey and Bob Weinstein bought worldwide rights to the film, agreeing to fully finance the picture. 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. I’m not sure if Bekmambetov is directing himself, but most likely he’s creatively supervising another director.
Bekmambetov, who has been producing the New Regency thriller The Darkest Hour, is booked to next direct Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a large scale adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel which was recently bought at auction by 20th Century Fox. The film, produced by Bekmambetov, Tim Burton and Jim Lemley, has been set for June 22, 2012 release. After Bekmambetov made such a stylish film in Wanted, only to be delayed in getting behind the camera again because of a so-far futile attempt to make a sequel, it’s good to see him involved in interesting subject matter.
The film has been positioned to sell quickly at AFM, and I’m told that a poster will probably be unveiled before the weekend is out. The deal was closed Bekmambetov’s WME agent Mike Simpson. Will tell you more when I know it.