It’s absolutely amazing watching all of these people profit and extort a tragedy that ended with a bullshit haunting of the Lutz family. While the original tale is quite interesting, it’s mind blowing to see how many variation of the myth can be told. While there’s a doc My Amityville Horror making fest rounds, Asylum making horrid ripoffs, Dimension continuing to develop on a remake, and James Wan being in post-production with Warner Bros.’ The Conjuring, producer Tony DeRosa-Grund, executive chairman of the Evergreen Media Group, is looking to mount a new film. His prequel will be based on the experiences of two reporters Laura DiDio and Marvin Scott, who investigated the incidents for New York TV station WNEW, reports THR.
The Long Island community of Amityville, N.Y. is home to the infamous house in which Ronald DeFeo, Jr. murdered six members of his family in 1974, and George Lutz and his family, who moved into the house a year later, claim to have encountered paranormal horrors that forced them to abandon the property after just 28 days. The case became the subject of Jay Anson’s 1977 book “The Amityville Horror: A True Story” and ten movies, beginning with 1979’s The Amityville Horror.
DeRosa-Grund has acquired rights to DiDio and Scott’s account of a séance that was held in the house on March 6, 1976 for a news report. As he tells it, DiDio was a 19-year-old cub reporter at the time, who tracked down the Lutzes through property records after they fled the house, and secured George Lutz’s permission to visit the house. Her resulting news report purportedly revealed ghostly presences, including that of a young boy, in the house.
“Marvin and I are thrilled to be working with Tony and Evergreen,” DiDio said. “I lived through this horrific ordeal and I am the only prson who has the ability to tell the true Amityville prequel story in its entirety. Even after all these years, after what I personally experienced, there is nothing anyone could ever do or say to get me back in that house.”
While he’s not yet lined up a writer or director, DeRosa-Grund is about to take a package out to the studios that includes what he’s calling “found footage” of the news report’s séance. According to the producer, the footage had been thought to be lost, discarded when the TV station got rid of its archival material to make room for a new editing baying, but he tracked down a copy of the report as well as additional footage that Scott had in his possession. The reporters’ story, says DeRosa-Grund, will be the basis for a movie about their experiences investigating the Amityville house and their discoveries about what happened there before the Lutzes moved in.
“They discerned certain things during the sequence, which heretofore had not been corroborated,” DeRosa-Grund says. “With a lot of help from Laura and from the Catholic Church, we’ve been able to get confirmations and connective tissues, in terms of the evil and the origins of evil in the house that was there before the Lutzes moved in.”
While DeRosa-Grund’s project will steer clear of depicting the Lutzes themselves –rights to the original Amityville Horror belong to various rights holders – he says that, “This will be the first time ever that the true prequel to the Amityville horror will be told.”
The first Amityville movie, The Amityville Horror, starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder, grossed $86 million domestically when it was released in 1979. After a string of sequels, it received a major reboot, courtesy of Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes, in 2005, and that MGM/Dimension release grossed $108 million worldwide.
In 2011, Dimension and Miramax announced a project called The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes, with Paranormal Activity’s Jason Blum producing. That project also involved found footage and a TV news intern investigating the Amityville case. The project has not yet gone into production, although a representative for Blum said it remains in development.
DeRosa-Grund says that the found footage he has secured will probably not appear in his proposed films unless it is used in the end credits, but instead will serve as the basis for his story.
DeRosa-Grund’s Evergreen Media Group owns a large collection of intellectual properties. Evergreen’s principals were founders of Archie Comic’s film and television division.
Evergree and DeRosa-Grund are currently in post-production on New Line Cinema’s The Conjuring, another film based on the story of real-life paranormal investigators, starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor that Warners will release Jan. 25. James Wan directed the feature, which was produced by Peter Safran, DeRosa-Grund and Rob Cowan.