The project was first announced a couple of weeks ago, and while details were scarce, it was revealed that the picture would be improv-based, would use “found footage” (i.e. cameras pretending to capture YouTube-like clips) and utilize a slim $5 million budget (quite a gear change for the director who usually commands $100 million plus budgets). But the project has been binned and it looks like genre fatigue is the reason.
While there is no official word on why the project was canned, an overcrowded market seems to be the likely culprit. Emmerich's film was being planned for a March release, but with Fox announcing their own on-the-cheap thriller "Apollo 18" already deep in production, with Timur Bekmambetov producing, and primed for a March 4, 2011 release, it seems enthusiasm for "The Zone" cooled. Not to mention that "World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles" (yes, that's apparently the new title of "Battle: Los Angeles"), another alien invasion flick, comes out a week later and of course, there's"Skyline" which comes out this weekend.
We're not sure why Columbia, who would've acquired the finished film, didn't just choose to release it later on in the year, but it seems everyone involved no longer wants to be involved even though the production carried less than the cost of a catering table on one of Emmerich's regular movies. So bad news for largely unknown Peter Mackenzie and Brandon Scott, who were in rehearsal and set to play a journalist in his 40s or 50s and a cameraman, respectively. The film would've certainly given them a nice break.
But we could barely muster enthusiasm for the project when it was first announced and now that it's canceled we're kind of relieved. There's more than enough lo-budget spectacles to fill the screen in the ensuing months, and we predict they'll all more or less be the same. As for Emmerich, it will give him time to fine tune his Shakespeare thriller "Anonymous" which will hit cinemas on September 23, 2011.