Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: We are getting close on the first significant distribution deal on the ground here for a film playing at Toronto. I’m told that Bob Weinstein’s Dimension Films is near a deal to acquire Aftershock, which is screening here, and Clown, which will start production soon. These are two Eli Roth-produced genre films. Roth stars in Aftershock, his first big lead role since he brained Nazis as the Jew Bear in Inglourious Basterds. I’ve heard that the minimum guarantee commitment is upwards of $2 million for each film, plus a guarantee of a wide theatrical release.

Aftershock is an earthquake thriller scripted by Roth, Nicolas Lopez & Guillermo Amoedo and marks the English-language debut from director Lopez. His last two films, Que Pena Tu Vida and Que Pena Tu Boda, were the highest-grossing Chilean films of 2010 and 2011. I’d reported that distributors were chasing this earlier this year when production was just getting underway, but the sellers at CAA held off. Ultimately, who can resist a plot that 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. 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 and Andrea Osvart. Roth produced with Sobras’ Miguel Asensio, who has produced all of Lopez’s films. Exec producers are Lopez and Mac and Helen Cappucino of Vertebra.

As for Clown, it’s based on a fan-made trailer that drew Roth’s attention when it went viral. Jon Watts is directing a script he wrote with Christopher D. Ford. Ford scripted Robot And Frank, which was just released. Clown is about a loving dad who slaps on a clown costume to fill in for a no-show for his kid’s birthday. He can’t take the clown get up off when the party ends, and discovers the ensemble is cursed and he’s headed toward becoming the embodiment of evil. Clown‘s produced by Roth, Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver, and Vertebra’s Steven Chester Prince.

Roth has done well as producer: The Last Exorcism grossed over $70 million, and The Man With the Iron Fists is coming from Universal, with RZA directing. Roth also has a long history with The Weinstein Company.

Here is a mock trailer that got Clown going:

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