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$300 Sci-Fi YouTube Video Lands $30m Movie Deal 315

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that's-a-lotta-cash dept.
krou writes "A producer from Uruguay who made a short science fiction film and uploaded it to YouTube has landed a film deal with Sam Raimi's Ghost House worth $300 million. The film, which shows spaceships and giant robots attacking Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, was made by Fede Alvarez for around $30. 'I uploaded (Panic Attack!) on a Thursday and on Monday my inbox was totally full of e-mails from Hollywood studios,' he said. Alvarez is to develop and direct a film based on one of his ideas, but there is no word yet on the writer."
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$300 Sci-Fi YouTube Video Lands $30m Movie Deal

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  • About time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:23PM (#30475480) Homepage

    Further proof that Hollywood is running out of good ideas, and must turn to new sources.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SEWilco (27983)
      First hint that Hollywood is turning to new sources.

      I hate it when robots attack Montevideo. Especially during soccer season.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by WormholeFiend (674934)

      I call shenanigans

      I uploaded several adult vids and I have yet to hear from the pr0n industry

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Necroloth (1512791)
      turning to other sources weren't things Hollywood did before?

      and why complain where they get their ideas if it is a good film?

      For me, this is just an example of it becoming easier for smaller artists/designers/producers etc to be able to show themselves on the world stage, nothing more.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        I didn't say it was a bad thing. Personally, I think it's about time Hollywood recognized that following the same formulas results in the same bad movies.

    • by NoYob (1630681) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:32PM (#30475612)

      Further proof that Hollywood is running out of good ideas, and must turn to new sources.

      It's not even new - it's "War of the Worlds" and "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" mixed together.

      The guy did a great job with the special effects, but story wise - meh.

      Golloywierd will throw in some hot chick in short shorts and lots of cleavage and it'll make a few hundred million.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Colonel Korn (1258968)

        Further proof that Hollywood is running out of good ideas, and must turn to new sources.

        It's not even new - it's "War of the Worlds" and "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" mixed together.

        The guy did a great job with the special effects, but story wise - meh.

        Golloywierd will throw in some hot chick in short shorts and lots of cleavage and it'll make a few hundred million.

        Mod parent up and GP down. It's very nicely done, but the only "good idea" here is having the robots attack South America instead of North America this time. Clearly he was doing a tech demo tribute to several large (and mediocre) recent Hollywood movies.

    • Re:About time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Smegly (1607157) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:33PM (#30475618)

      Further proof that Hollywood is running out of good ideas, and must turn to new sources.

      Proof that Hollywood has a lot more more to fear from this trend on the internet than than just copyright infringement... the more amateur file makers gain recognition and rewards - the better quality their films will become. Diluting eyeballs and eroding profit margins for Hollywood. Yay!

      • by sunking2 (521698)
        What? Other than FX, which hollywood is pretty good at, what exactly does this film show?
        • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

          by asdf7890 (1518587) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:31PM (#30476486)

          What? Other than FX, which hollywood is pretty good at, what exactly does this film show?

          That at least one of the barriers to market entry (the cost of producing good FX) is much lower than many people expect. Lower barriers to market entry mean more competition, potentially, which could be good for us lazy consumers either through lowering the cost of our entertainment or, preferably, increasing the variety of it.

          Why might it improve variety? Good FX this cheap means there is one less thing standing between some impoverished writer/directer with good ideas and opportunities for him/her to see those ideas brought to fruition without having to involve the big money people who will panel beat the ideas into a lifeless mush designed not to put off any of the lowest common denominator audience by asking them to think and/or feel something they haven't thought/felt many times before from watching the homogenised output the industry is often lambasted for. The FX don't need to be giant robots - if things keep moving this way (and I don't see why they shouldn't) in the near future anyone with the right ideas+talent+time could create a full CGI production (removing set and sound studio expenses and reducing casting issues) of any type, not just SciFi/fantasy.

          In short, this guy has achieved something impressive on a very low budget. Given his achievement, even while accepting it isn't perfect by any means, don't you wonder what he and/or other people could do in future with more time+budget?

    • To his credit... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by KingSkippus (799657) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:46PM (#30475804) Homepage Journal

      To his credit, the plot of the YouTube video was a lot more interesting than around 80% of the movies that Hollywood does churn out these days.

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Eh.. there's really no new ideas in the YouTube clip. If anything, it's a remake of every other urban destruction movie, but the quality is at least on par with big-budget TV effects. Of course, I'm not sure what Hollywood is expecting from him... there's a big difference between producing your own digital video, and herding a bunch of catty actors while trying to supervise the CGI artists, camera men, editors, etc. and still effectively conveying the story. Someone else's story no less, according to TFA

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by alexhard (778254)

      A cgi bonanza with an annoying shakeycam and no acting. Truly original, and exactly what Hollywood needs to renew itself!

      • Missing the point? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KingSkippus (799657)

        A cgi bonanza with an annoying shakeycam and no acting. Truly original, and exactly what Hollywood needs to renew itself!

        I'm thinking you're missing the point. If I were Hollywood, I'd be interested in this not because of the plot or the acting, but because the guy made a pretty impressive scene with lots of pretty sophisticated special effects on a shoestring budget.

        If I were Sam Raimi, I'd be thinking, "If he can do that for $500, even if $500 is exaggerated and it actually cost him a grand or two, then

    • I don't see how this sort of thing isn't a positive development. The filmmaker who made this short is obviously talented. It's not just that the special effects are impressive for such a small budget, but the whole thing is shot pretty well.

      I mean, this is kind of what should be happening, right? The movie industry finds talented filmmakers and gives them a chance to work on bigger projects?

    • by westlake (615356)

      Further proof that Hollywood is running out of good ideas, and must turn to new sources.

      Giant alien machines destroy a great city:

      H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds,1898.
      Radio adaption for Orson Welle's Mercury Theater of the Air, 1938.
      Film adaption by George Pal, 1953.
      Radio adaptation by WKBW, Buffalo, New York., 1968.
      Staged live using live remotes. State-of-the-art tech for an independent AM radio station in the sixties.
      Musical adaptation by Jeff Wayne in 1978.

      Referenced countless times in every media fro

  • $30 million (Score:5, Informative)

    by zn0k (1082797) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:25PM (#30475520)

    Both articles mention $30 million, not $300 million.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      I was going to say. Avatar, most expensive film, was just over 300 million. And that led by James Cameron, someone well known and respected. And 10+ years ago, they had waterworld, most expensive at $180 million by Kevin Costner, and they were crapping their pants.

      No way they'd give an unknown 300 million for something that vaguely resembles transformers/independence day. It's a decent film and all, but.

      I also get tired of films "costing" $300, or there was a story of a decent zombie flick costing $70.

      • They probably just confused the currency with the dollar from 10 years ago..

        Mocking aside, $300m is really improbable and probably wrongly quoted by someone that had a stressed day and therefore hit one unimportant zero too much.

        As for resemblance, it's more like a hybrid of "Sky captain and the world of tomorrow" and the game "Supreme commander".

        Your third paragraph is a gem though. Yea, he probably spent months if not years on the CG as hobby project. Also contributions and the basic ability to create suc

    • by krou (1027572)
      Oops, my bad. Sorry about that. I think I need better eyes.
    • by Dan East (318230)

      That will be enough to pay for one superstar to sit on a stool and be filmed for 90 minutes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by chromas (1085949)
      He gets $300 million if he can spend the the entire 30m within a month.
  • His original post (Score:3, Informative)

    by aBaldrich (1692238) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:26PM (#30475528)
    He posted his video in Taringa! and from there he became famous. Original post at taringa.net [taringa.net]
  • If he did this for about $300, its really amazing. The CGI is really nicely done.

  • Sam Raimi (Score:5, Funny)

    by ExE122 (954104) * on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:34PM (#30475644) Homepage Journal
    Who knew that the man behind Spiderman, The Grudge, Evil Dead, and Drag Me to Hell is a fan of cheesy low budget special effects.
  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:36PM (#30475652)

    Here's the link to the original video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPvmIxu-LSA [youtube.com]

    (NFSW language. If you work in a lame place. My co-workers laughed their asses off.)

  • by g0dsp33d (849253)
    I can't wait for the upcoming "Leave Britney Alone [2011]" and "Cat and Box [2012]".
  • Real costs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:39PM (#30475710) Homepage

    As awesome as that video is - and it is pretty damn awesome, let there be no mistake about that - I suspect that it only cost $300 if he's considering the time of himself and his friends to be worth zero. (I'm assuming the group scenes were the result of getting a bunch of buddies together.)

    I'd be interested to know how many hours of his own time were spent on that.

    However, it is pretty awesome and the mere fact that he can do stuff like that with his limited resources is a sign that he may well deserve that money.

    • He was also probably not considering the costs of cameras, computers, software -- as it is all stuff he had already.
    • Re:Real costs (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:19PM (#30476282)

      It only cost $300. It also had opportunity cost, which is not something that can be calculated reliably. If his other opportunities for that time would all have gained him $0, then his opportunity cost was $0. In this economic climate, that's a distinct possibility.

  • Um... How about this: Adam Sandler fights against spaceships and giant robots attacking Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, or something.
  • by us7892 (655683) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:42PM (#30475750) Homepage
    The fog shrouded giant robots hooked me. Well done effects.

    How many hundreds of hours does it take to create something like this?
  • Nobody would make that piece for $300. That price clearly does not include the value of his time or any number of other things (like the computer used for CG and editing for example). Just call it a hobby project or something, but don't claim it only cost $300.
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:54PM (#30475928) Homepage

      That price clearly does not include the value of his time or any number of other things

      The value of your time is whatever someone is paying you for it. If nobody is paying you for it, then that time is worth $0. It almost certainly has a non-monetary worth, but you don't add that to your budget tally.

      For a direct comparison, when the contractor working on my house bills me for 20 hours at $30, and tells me that he donated 3 hours to fix a mistake he made or because he was being anal retentive about getting something perfect, my bill is $600. Those extra three hours, hypothetically worth $30 each, actually cost $0.

      Just call it a hobby project or something, but don't claim it only cost $300.

      It certainly was a hobby project, yet I don't see why that means it couldn't have been made for $300. My contractor isn't doing it as a hobby, it's his livelihood, yet the same rules apply.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by musicalmicah (1532521)

        The value of your time is whatever someone is paying you for it. If nobody is paying you for it, then that time is worth $0. It almost certainly has a non-monetary worth, but you don't add that to your budget tally.

        No, there's this thing called opportunity cost that can be used to value a hobbyist's time. For instance, if I can get $8/hr on Saturdays working at a coffeeshop instead of playing computer games, then it's worth at least $8/hr for me to spend that hour blasting virtual monsters with virtual rockets instead of making tasty espresso for impatient customers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Chris Burke (6130)

          So why isn't the time you spend blasting virtual monsters worth $100/hr, since that's how much you could hypothetically make as a prostitute? Because you aren't a prostitute, just like you aren't a Saturday barista?

          But in any case, that's only your opportunity cost for not doing anything productive. The fact still remains that your time spent playing video games is worth $0. Nobody is going to pay you to do it.

          And for the ultimate point that is relevant to this discussion, which is the cost of making a f

  • Hollywood couldn't come up with "Giant Robots Attacking A Modern City" ?? I'm not a movie aficionado, but dudes, that's been done before.

  • I was going to say that I was waiting for Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, the movie, but according to Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshimi_Battles_the_Pink_Robots) there is a Broadway musical in development. So the movie will not be far behind.

    And the plot outline looks pretty interesting.

    • So the movie will not be far behind.

      Dude. That Pink Robots movie has been playing at the cineplex near Tannhäuser Gate for weeks. I went to see it a few nights ago, but was heavily distracted by the glittering c-beams. You should go see it ASAP.

      Seth

  • Anyone? Same scene done better in a novel story that was a huge risk in Hollywood.

    Yes, it's impressive that the linked video was done on an amateur budget, and congratulations to this guy; I hope he makes millions, but let's not pretend this is original stuff.

  • The Movie

  • PR/Viral marketing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by djwavelength (398555) * on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:58PM (#30475970)

    Am I the only one who thinks that the whole situation was setup as a viral marketing/PR stunt? Maybe I'm just naturally distrustful of Hollywood.

    It is easier to sell tickets to another run of the mill Sci-Fi movie if it has a story like this behind it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      Considering that he had a "flood" of offers in his email before most of the world even heard of it? Yeah, I'd say it's a PR stunt.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by aBaldrich (1692238)
        You can actually read some of the "flood" of emails in alvarez's original post (5-Nov-2009) www.taringa.net/posts/videos/3854519.2/Ataque-de-Panico!-Robots-Gigantes-en-Montevideo.html
    • Turns out he's a big PR agency guy - makes adverts for Pepsi and the like presumably for national prime time tv, for some sized budget. So it's not so much "young art school student and mates make $300 movie and gets lucky" more like "talented, experienced, well connected ad. movie maker in the media business makes fun film in spare time when he's not directing SFX heavy corporate videos and gets a step up to making feature films". More of a case of media people talking to each other than famous director's

  • by mpapet (761907) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @01:59PM (#30475982) Homepage

    The project is budgeted at 30M.

    This is Alvarez's first project, probably no agent, definitely no actors attached to it, so they will probably give him an 'advance' and then lots of interdependent if-then conditionals. He won't get any on-screen credits. (That sets off a bunch of payouts the producer normally keeps) Then one of two things happen to a first-time writer/creator.

    1. The conditionals are never met. Alvarez keeps his pittance of an advance and makes a little beer money. This is normally how it works for a project off the street.
    2. The producer reinterprets the contract or has some sort of magical contractual difficulty with Alvarez if the project is successful. Alvarez then might see his five figures after a few rounds in court and 6-figure legal bills.

    Check out the legal wrangling on 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' as an example. According to the producer, that was an 'unprofitable' film. Welcome to business deals in Hollywood.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      AFAICT, generally more common with movies from relatively unknown writers or based on relatively unknown books.

      Probably because not even Hollywood would have been stupid enough to, eg, screw JK Rowling over the first Harry Potter film.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is basically what Ghost House did to the Peng brothers on The Messengers. They were off the show once the cameras stopped rolling, and the company hired a ghost director to finish the film.

      The producer reinterprets the contract or has some sort of magical contractual difficulty with Alvarez if the project is successful.

      That won't happen. If Alvarez has a remotely competent agent he'll push for gross points or none at all, which are a cut of the box office before any expenses. Actors and directors learned their lesson from the recording industry years ago and it's pretty common knowledge that a deal net of expenses is worthless.

  • by prakslash (681585) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:00PM (#30475986)
    I am sorry but I would take this story with pinch of salt.
    Could be someone is pulling a fast one on this guy?

    There is nothing in the film that shows any originality or creativity in ideas. It seems like a amateur copy of scenes from "War of the Worlds" and "Independence Day".

    So, what did Hollywood Studios see in this guy?

    That he can make a hacky special effects film for $300? Even there, anyone can see that if you used the proper accounting methods, the budget was probaly way more than $300. All those crowds running was previously shot and reused dfootage. If he had to perform original shooting of those scenes, the budget would go way over $300. Same goes for the explosions and other special effects. He probably spent a long time on creating those but did not include the dollar value of that time which typically would add thousands of dollars to the film's budget. So, I am not seeing what he brought to the table.
    Those fan-created Star Trek episodes have more going for them than this.
    • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:13PM (#30476178)

      Even there, anyone can see that if you used the proper accounting methods, the budget was probaly way more than $300.

      That's your answer right there. You can't swing a dead cat* in Hollywood without hitting a dozen writers. Mr. Raimi doesn't need any more writers, but creative accountants are gold.


      *No actual cats were harmed during this post.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      Even there, anyone can see that if you used the proper accounting methods, the budget was probaly way more than $300.

      Since when did anything involving movies ever use proper accounting methods?

    • by pavon (30274)

      There is nothing in the film that shows any originality or creativity in ideas.
      So, what did Hollywood Studios see in this guy?

      I think you just answered that yourself :)

  • by jabjoe (1042100) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:02PM (#30475998)
    Being able to make movies much cheaper is a good thing. Means making a movie is much less financially risky, so people are more likely to back something new and unknown. Consumer grade equipment is getting better all the time, perhaps holywood won't be needed. This plus file sharing must have holywood filling their pants, not sure drawing such attention with such large sums of money was wise for them.....
  • ...I'm not going to get Rick rolled...
  • With all the hollywood accounting, I hope he at least makes his original 100USD. But most likely he won't get anything and with a bit of bad luck, he ends up loosing money.

  • they remake the movie once more.

  • by NoPantsJim (1149003) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:19PM (#30476284) Homepage
    Primer was one of the best sci-fi movies I've ever seen, on a budget of $7,000. It's about damn time that guy gets the funding he needs to bring his other ideas to fruition.
  • Well, of course, their requests for subsidies was not Uraguayan in and of it is as it were the United States government would never have if the president, our president, had not and as far as I know that's the way it will always be. Is that clear?
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:46PM (#30476760) Journal
    movie? Shows it is better to post in youtube than to pimp your movie project in slashdot.

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