EXCLUSIVE: As UK studios and cinemas fill up with mega-budget U.S. superhero movies, here’s a rare David and Goliath story from the other end of the spectrum. Micro-budget UK sci-fi film Invasion Planet Earth, a passion project 20 years in the making, has secured UK distribution.
Lightbulb Film Distribution and Munro Film Services have teamed up to release the debut feature, which follows a couple’s struggle to survive as the UK comes under attack from an alien mothership.
Brit editor Simon Cox, now in his 50s, began working on the script in the ’90s and has been piecing it together for over a decade. His initial plan was to make “the biggest British indie sci-fi movie ever” but over the years a different reality set in. Even then, it has taken most of his adult life to pull it off.
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The project, which was previously called Kaleidoscope Man, ultimately shot in and around the UK city of Birmingham over a six-year period and spent two years in post. It was financed through crowd-funding (hence the 126 producers on IMDb) and a handful of private investors. Cox is director, co-writer, editor, vfx supervisor and producer.
Cast is largely made up of unknown actors but the pic includes an end title song by UK singer and actress Toyah Willcox (Quadrophenia) who also stars in the film. Matt Allsopp, whose credits include Godzilla: King Of The Monsters and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, provided original concept art.
In the end, we hear there were a few distributors interested in the film, whose nifty VFX work belies its budget. A UK theatrical release date has been set for December 5 followed by home entertainment. This won’t be a Marvel juggernaut but the buyers are hopeful of a useful commercial return and for the filmmakers, just securing a release in a tough UK market is cause for cheer, especially after such a long journey. There is also interest from a handful of U.S. buyers, we understand. The aim will be for cult breakout, largely via home ent.
Munro Films’ MD Frank Smith said, “Simon Cox had the vision and drive to make the kind of film he and sci-fi fans want to see. It’s the ultimate nostalgic homage and very effective. There’s a clear fanbase, and Simon should also be applauded for engaging a community of fans for the film over the years, many of whom featured as extras in crowd scenes. They, along with sci-fi fans across the UK can now enjoy Invasion Planet Earth and we are very happy about that.”
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be releasing Invasion Planet Earth,” said Lightbulb’s commercial director, Matthew Kreuzer. “We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on this film, for the past few months, with Simon and his team. What he has created over the past 20 years is a fantastic action-sci-fi film with a nod to the sci-fi programs we used to watch in the ’70s and ’80s like Doctor Who and Buck Rogers. It has such a cool retro feel about it and yet he has combined this with strong CGI elements, bringing it up to the modern day.”
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