Today’s announcement that Universal Pictures would finance Vigilandia, a film by Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum and the Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, is worth reconsidering on a philosophical level. Universal, which has spent boatloads of money on films like Battleship, is funding a movie that will cost a couple million dollars. For that, they’ve got Ethan Hawke, and the expertise of Blum and Bay, the director of the megabudget Transformers films. Something is happening here; studios are re-thinking the idea of overspending on risky projects (Warner Bros just unplugged Arthur & Lancelot and Akira) when audiences are turning out for films like The Devil Inside. That no-budget film, acquired by Paramount’s new Insurge division, got about the worst reviews since Plan 9 From Outer Space, and still out-grossed movies made for signficantly more money. This could make a tightening marketplace even tighter, if these found footage no-cost films continue to break the bank. While the Paranormal Activity films and Insidious have been highly profitable crowd pleasers, if studios refocus their attention on these down and dirty films, don’t expect the quality of movie making to get any better in 2012 than it was last year.
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