News Bites: Uni Bends to MPAA for ‘Dream House,’ Eli Roth Roundup & ‘Zombieland 2′ Dying?

In MPAA rating news, TheWrap reports that the MPAA Appeals Board ruled against Morgan Creek Productions on Wednesday, deciding that Dream House, the Universal movie starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, deserved an R-rating. The board decided that the movie merited the rating because of “some violence.” But here’s where the MPAA destroys art: Morgan Creek’s executive VP of marketing, Greg Mielcarz, told TheWrap that he still believes the film will ultimately receive a PG-13 rating. “They gave us a list of several things in the movie that they thought should be cut,” he said. “We’re going to … work with them together to ensure that we receive a PG-13.” Good to know that the MPAA are editors and know what’s best for 13-year-olds. Pffffft. Jim Sheridan’s thriller hopes to hit theaters September 20.

Website Little White Lies caught up with rising star Jesse Eisenberg to talk about his role in Holy Rollers. When asked if it were true that he was making a sequel to Zombieland, Eisenberg explained: “No. They’re writing the script right now but I haven’t seen it and I suspect that the longer we wait, the less relevant it will be. I mean, all the actors would love to do it and the director would love to do it but I’m not sure what’s happening.” If it were to go behind cameras, Ruben Fleischer would return to direct in 3-D with Woody Harrelson and Eisenberg returning to star.

Lastly, Eli Roth has revealed further details about his current slate of projects as a producer and director, speaking to Screen at the Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival this week. He is currently working on the screenplay for his long-gestating sci-fi apocalypse movie Endangered Species, which will be in the $40 million to $60 million bracket and should mark his next directorial duty, reports Screen Daily. Read below to see more of this lengthy article, which also reveals his “radical solution to film piracy” (which is something I desperately want to do with BD Selects)…
Eli RothThe American filmmaker has recently returned from Shanghai where he has been writing and producing The Man With The Iron Fist. Directed by RZA from The Wu-Tang Clan, the Universal Studios- backed martial arts film stars Russell Crowe and is likely to be released in the autumn of 2012.

Following his success as a producer with Daniel Stamm’s The Last Exorcism (which made $41 million at the North American box-office and opened at No. 1 in several countries), Roth is also overseeing various other new features.

For example, he has co-written and will produce the previously announced Aftershock that will be directed by young Chilean director Nicolas Lopez.

It is basically set in the aftermath of the Chilean earthquake. That (the idea) came from him (Lopez) describing to me what the hours were like immediately following the earthquake. Everybody is on Facebook, everybody is on Twitter, everything is hi-tech. Then, within seconds, it’s like the Stone Age. There’s no electricity, no phones. There are fires. Criminals are out of the prisons and there are no police. You don’t know what the hell is going on.

Aftershock is due to shoot in October. It is being back by Cross Creek (the outfit behind Black Swan) and Vertebra Films.

Cross Creek and Vertebra also to back another Roth produced movie Clown, about a father who puts on a clown suit for his son’s birthday and then discovers he can’t take it off. Jon Watts and Christopher Ford are currently working on the screenplay. The project originated in unlikely circumstances when Roth saw a spoof trailer for it with his name attached and decided it was worth making for real. Watts will direct.

Speaking in Neuchatel, Roth also called for a radical overhaul of theatrical and DVD distribution strategies to combat piracy.

The American director was speaking in the wake of his own experiences with Hostel Part II (2007), which he claimed had been downloaded illegally an astonishing two million times before it had even been released.

Roth’s proposed solution is to provide cinemagoers with a double option. For those paying a slightly enhanced price, he advocates offering tickets that come “with a code for a digital download.” The idea is “see the film in the cinema and get the download free.

30 days from the film’s release, you get a link sent to your phone and you get a pristine copy. You’ll already have paid for it (the download) with your ticket. You won’t to have to save the ticket. The code will go into whatever your account is with that movie theatre chain.

As with iTunes, the Roth model will “eliminate all the packaging and the marketing.” The price point will be low enough that “people hopefully will feel guilty if they take it for free.” The aim will be both to play on fans’ remorse about pirating and to offer audiences a modestly priced way to access new movies on line without undermining their theatrical potential. “Why pirate it when for the price of popcorn and parking, you’ll have a pristine copy.

Denying accusations from horror fans that he was “whining,” Roth pointed out how “devastating” to Hostel Part II’s performance the rampant piracy turned out to be.

When you’re making a low budget movie, your theatrical box-office triggers what your DVD order is which triggers what your cable sale is. That’s where you making your money, when it hits these thresholds in the theatre and when two million people download a movie a week before it opens, it affects the box-office.

Roth also pointed out that pre-release pirating of horror movies inevitably lessens their impact for fans. “Horror movies are only most potent when they are first seen,” he said. “The haunted house is never as scary the second time through.