EXCLUSIVE: In a move that might not make James Cameron’s day, Dimension Films has locked in a director and writers and will race to get a Piranha 3D sequel up and running quickly enough to hit theaters by late August, 2011. Dimension has set John Gulager to direct and Saw 3D scribes Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan to write Piranha 3 DD, the sequel to last summer’s toothy fish fest that found itself earning the ire of Cameron. The filmmaker cited it as an example of the hasty 3D conversions, while he was barnstorming for Avatar. That led to a sharp — and lengthy — rebuke from Piranha 3D’s producer Mark Canton. For the sequel, Dimension’s Bob Weinstein has reassembled the team behind Feast, the Dimension horror film that served as a season of the TV show Project Greenlight. The director and writers got their starts on that low-budget horror film. Gulager went on to direct two Feast sequels while the scribes moved on to write four installments of the Saw franchise. They recently set an updated version of the classic anthology series The Outer Limits at MGM.
The Alexandre Aja-directed Piranha 3D got decent reviews for being a self-aware film that didn’t take itself too seriously as it unleashed a prehistoric piranha pack on an unsuspecting crowd of scantily-clad, drunken spring breakers. Much of the cast, including Eli Roth, became chum in the bloody waters, but whoever remains from the original cast might be back, along with some surprising thesps who’ll serve as fresh meat. Making a late summer date will be difficult, but not impossible, if the writers nail the script in the next four weeks. Let’s face it, they aren’t writing Citizen Kane here. Clearly, Dimension smells money in the water and doesn’t want to wait an extra summer to cash in. The original, which cost $20 million to make and another $20 million to market, has chomped its way to a worldwide gross of $71 million so far, with Japan and several other territories still to open. The scribes are repped by Underground and APA.