Rob Zombie premiered his horror feature 31 at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, and now Variety reports that Saban Films is set to acquire North American rights to the film, which stars Sheri Moon Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects), Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), and The Lords of Salem stars Jeff Daniel Phillips and Meg Foster. Zombie wrote/directed the film, which follows five carnival workers who are kidnapped and held hostage in a hellish compound “where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive 12 hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.”
“After meeting with Saban, it was obvious that this was the perfect home for 31,” said Rob Zombie. “They have a true understanding of the genre and how to handle it. I am very excited to work with them.”
Last year, Rob explained to Revolver magazine where the concept came from, saying, “I was reading this statistic: Halloween is the Number One day of the year when people go missing for some reason. I thought, ‘What an interesting premise for a film.’ This is five people that go missing on each day leading up to Halloween and what happens to them on the 31st.”
— Variety (@Variety) March 24, 2016
Zombie rose to fame as a founding member of the heavy metal band White Zombie, releasing four studio albums with the band. He released his debut solo studio album, Hellbilly Deluxe in 1998 – which sold over three million copies worldwide. His follow-up album was The Sinister Urge (2001), went platinum in the United States. In 2003, Zombie released the compilation album Past, Present, & Future.
Rob’s foray into directing came with House of 1000 Corpses (2003). He cited 70’s horror films such as 1974’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and 1977’s The Hills Have Eyes as influences for the project. The film stars Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Zombie’s wife Sheri Moon, and Karen Black as members of the Firefly family, who torture a group of traveling teenagers on Halloween. The movie was ill received and critically panned. It earned over $3 million opening weekend, and would later bank $16 million worldwide.
The Devil’s Rejects was released in 2005 and was the sequel to House of 1000 Corpses. It earned over $19 million at the box office against a $7 million budget. In the years since its release, the film has garnered a cult following. In 2007, Zombie released his re-imagining of the 1978 horror classic Halloween. The film became his highest grossing project to date. He later directed Halloween II, but it failed to match the success of the first film.
Rob released the supernatural horror Lords of Salem in 2012, which centers on a female disc jockey in Salem, Massachusetts, whose life becomes entangled with a coven of ancient witches. The film didn’t make waves at the box office, taking in just as much as it cost to make, a little over 1.5. million.
For his next big screen project, Zombie said he wanted to keep it simple with 31, much like his directorial debut. Check out the short clip below of him talking about the film.
31 was crowdfunded online twice, and earlier this year, Rob explained to Revolver why he chose this route instead of securing studio backing.
“As the years go on, the game changes all the time, and a movie that you could get made years ago, you cannot get made anymore, because the business changes, things change. And I’ve noticed that, there’s also a lot of aspects of the crowdfunding that were sort of taking place already, where people always wanna buy props or own a piece of the movie or somehow be involved after the fact, whereas after the fact, there’s nothing much to be involved with. So what I liked about crowdfunding — ’cause it wasn’t something I… I, like most people, it’s new to them — is I thought, this is a way to get a movie made that you know the fans want that studios are a little ‘iffy’ on, and they can be involved too in a way that they would like to be involved, through things that have gone on in the past that I’ve noticed. So it seems sort of like a logical progression for a film like this.”
31 was financed by Bow and Arrow Entertainment, who co-produced with Spectacle Entertainment Group. THR confirms that Bromiley, Ness Saban and Jonathan Saba negotiated the deal on behalf of Saban Films. UTA Independent Film Group arranged financing and handled North American rights.
“31 is a treat not just to horror fans, but fans of true auteur filmmaking,” said Saban Films president Bill Bromiley. “The film is executed in true stylistic Zombie fashion. Rob is an unrivaled talent, and we are thrilled to bring his bold new film to audiences across the continent.”
Saban Films most recently acquired domestic rights to Renny Harlin’s action comedy Skiptrace, starring Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville. Variety notes that additional upcoming titles include The Trust, starring Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival; and A Hologram for the King, starring Tom Hanks.
Rob Zombie’s 31 will have a limited theatrical release on September 16.
[Image courtesy Matt Sayles/Invision/AP]