Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Multiple offers are on the table for Aftershock, an earthquake thriller scripted by Eli Roth, Nicolas Lopez & Guillermo Amoedo. It’s the next ‘Eli Roth Presents’ film, and it marks the English-language debut from director Nicolas Lopez. His last two films, Que Pena Tu Vida and Que Pena Tu Boda, were the highest-grossing Chilean films of 2010 and 2011. Roth most recently produced The Last Exorcism, a microbudget film that grossed $70 million worldwide. I’m told that several distributors are in talks, with the Weinstein Company and Relativity Media among them. The dealmaking will likely take place in Berlin, where, after the success of small-budget genre films like Chronicle and The Last Exorcism, these movies are becoming a license to print money. I’ve heard from potential buyers that the plot revolves around an insane asylum on an island, where the inmates escape during the quake.

Roth and Lopez wrote the story together, inspired by the latter’s experience when an earthquake devastated Chile in 2010. The film is four weeks into production in Chile. In his first big acting role since Inglourious Basterds, Roth plays the lead. Among the other cast is Selena Gomez, who was in Chile doing a concert and came over to do a cameo. Lopez’s frequent collaborators Ariel Levy, Nicolas Martinez and Lorenza Izzo also star, along with Natasha Yarovenko, Andrea Osvart and Miguel Asensio. Latter has produced all of Lopez’s films.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Nicolas Lopez since his remarkable debut Promedio Rojo and have watched him grow into one of the best young filmmakers out there,” Roth said. “He has the incredible combination of commercial sensibility with an artistic eye, and what he has done here in Chile with their film industry is revolutionary. This collaboration marks the beginning of what we call Chilewood, making genre films for the global market using all the resources Chile has to offer. We are making a smart elevated disaster genre movie with superb production value, something really big. The film’s going to be very scary, very intense, and very real.”

The film is a Cross Creek/Vetebra/Sobras production, with Vertebra’s Mac Cappucino and Jim Holt exec producing along with Lopez. The project is one of two that Roth has with Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver, who’s also financing the Roth-produced fright film Clown. Back when I revealed the deals for the two-fer and noted that Roth went back on his word to my colleague Nikki Finke that he’d sworn off the gore, Roth apologized in advance to Finke as well as the MPAA for what he had in store with these films. I can tell you buyers are liking what they’ve seen. CAA is brokering the domestic deal and Filmnation’s Glenn Basner is selling international. Roth’s repped by CAA.

Said Lopez: “I have been writing, producing and directing feature films since I was 17, and now that I’m 28 it’s time to cross over to the worldwide market, especially when you have someone like Eli Roth as your Godfather. I was a fan of Cabin Fever and Hostel, and I love that we’re mixing our sensibility. People will be shocked when they see this movie. It’s nothing that you could expect. I want this to be my Robocop.”