Sam Raimi Signs Panic Attack! Director for Sci-Fi Feature Film Debut


Looks like Sam Raimi and Ghost House Pictures have won the Federico Alvarez sweepstakes. A couple of days ago we posted a short film from the young Uruguayan filmmaker called Panic Attack!, which had been spreading across YouTube like wildfire and attracting a lot of attention in Hollywood. Now we have news from the Uruguayan newspaper El País that Alvarez has signed a contract with Sam Raimi’s production company and is set to make his feature film debut with a $30 to 40 million science-fiction film. Clearly they are hoping this will be the next District 9… but can he deliver?

While the original article is in Spanish, the loose translation also tells us that Raimi spoke with Federico Alvarez on the phone for an hour and a half and the two seemed to hit it off. The idea would be for Raimi to shield him from the business side of things in order to give him the freedom to make the movie he wants (not unlike how Peter Jackson helped mentor Neill Blomkamp). The film will be shot in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay. It’s unclear if the story will be based partially on Panic Attack!, but the project was hastily developed over Alvarez’s two week whirlwind trip to Los Angeles, and it sounds like he wants to include robots in some way. Either way, it should be interesting to see what comes of this. As I’ve mentioned previously, I think District 9 is a great production template to work from and I hope we see studios taking chances on a few more young filmmakers in the near future. (Thanks to Nico for the heads up!)

  • Nick Robertson

    Does Hollywood have no shame? I can’t believe that some guy rips off Alive in Joburg and within days he’s basically making District 9 – 2.
    This had better not put Blomkamp and Jackson off D9-2, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.
    This year we had a film come out in an unorthodox manner and it really kicked ass and put all the ‘big’ films to shame and now they’re ripping it off already.
    Panic Attack! (an exclamation point in the title? Awesome…) won’t be anywhere near as good as D9.
    Did anyone see Neill’s ‘Yellow’?

  • Maopheus

    The kid has vision and definitely an eye for using effects but it’s a long way from translating that into a 2 hour long movie. That said, you could have said the same about Blomkamp. Now we’ve seen a lot more of Blomkamp’s previous work than this Alvarez guy’s, but maybe that’s because Uruguay ain’t exactly a hot bed for movies. It make sense to have an experienced filmmaker kind of nurture and hold the guy’s hand. The one thing that Raimi should try to avoid is getting too involved because it shouldn’t seem like a Raimi movie, considering most of his movies are very distinctive.

  • Brendan

    Yeah, as I posted before, there’s not really enough in that short film to tell if he can direct a full movie.
    I’m also wondering how much credit Alvarez deserves for the video. Did he do all the effects himself, or did someone else do them? If he did, I think that’s more of a sign of his ability to produce special fx sequence, rather than direct a feature film. If he didn’t do the effects, what exactly was he responsible for? I’m not trying to come off accusatory, I really just want to know how much of the short film was his direct control. Did he storyboard it and hand it off to an effects guy/team? There really wasn’t any story or dialog to speak of, and not many human actors to direct either. Just giant robots blowing stuff up.

  • Marc

    The action scenes were cool but we’ve seen them done before and much better at around the same budget level. That said I give the film maker and the fx team he used a lot of credit for putting something tangible out there. Most teams never get past the initial concept stages.

    By the way did anyone else notice the music that was taken from 28 weeks later? It seems that Hollywood is mining John Murphy’s film score catalog for trailers like this. Hell even James Cameron used some of the tracks from 28 weeks later in the first Avatar teaser.

    Anyways I’m looking forward to seeing more from this film maker. Hopefully he’ll become the next superstar.

  • sad

    Why u guys say he rips off? The short movie fucking sucks other than having cool effects. How can you seriously say that the movie was good? It’s nothing else than a bunch of robots tearing shit up. FUCK! JUST GIVE MICHEAL BAY AN OSCAR TOO! FUCKING BULLSHIT FUCK!

  • sad

    And this is not any Blomkamp rip off of any kind. IT not even near Alive in Joburg at any level. This movie is as i said just bunch of robots tearing shit apart. nothing more. OMFG…

  • Maopheus

    @Brendan, yeah there’s of course no knowing how much he did or didn’t do. Also don’t get too impressed by the $300 budget. $300 goes a longer way in Uruguay, it’s about 6000 Uruguayan pesos. Still not a lot of money, but just judging by the mix of CG and live scenes, he at least had to do some kind of casting and coordination effort to get a bunch of people (probably not all of them his friends or family) to run around and react to the invasion. It’s a different world now where a guy with some vision and talent can make a pretty decent short film with off-the-shelf software for a small amount and then get it out there for free on Youtube. The traditional entertainment companies have to become aware of that and have to come up with business schemes to exploit that.

  • G

    @Nick Robertson: I hate morons, the only thing I hate more than morons is morons who try to act smart and you are a moron who is trying to act smart. Please show me the script of District 9- 2 that you read and please tell me about the secret device this guy is using to read Blomkampp’s mind on his ideas about a D9 sequel. What your puny brain and tunnel vision can’t comprehend is that this guy was working on this short well before District 9 came out.

  • Napalm

    looks like they are putting their money on this guy based solely on his ability to do special effects on a limited budget. that is not the right way to go about it at all. at least JoBerg had a story and theme to it. it wasn’t JUST special effects.

  • pcch7

    ok, maybe it´s impressive for 300$ but it´s jsut effects.. Is that all that´s needed to get into Hollywood now? Blomkamps shorts was much better I think and I´d rather see the guys behind “Escape from City 17″ get some financial support..

  • zenith

    I liked “Panic Attack” a lot. A friend from Montevideo emailed me the link to that vid on YouTube. She said the buildings they destroyed looked just like the real ones. I don’t know how they do that, but it’s amazing.

  • pcch7

    zenith- After effects perhaps?

  • drewsifer

    I think this is a way better form for directors to get noticed. I say give this guy a shot and create a new generation of like 4 or 5 guys who do this style of realistic sci-fi for a low budget. Kind of like Zoetrop back in the day with Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese They were considered ground breaking back than. i’d like to see more of these guys. We’ll nick name them, shitty to big budget boys. Besides its better to let someone new experiment than give Bruckheimer or Bay another 200 mil.

  • Ranger Tom

    OK, this guy has done something pretty small and shallow, but it’s created a ton of buzz and gotten him noticed. It’s not like they are throwing a $100 Mill a film franchise at him. He’s getting a chance with a limited budget to show what he can do. At least wait til you see what comes of this before biting his head off. I’m curious and for now that’s all it should be. I think it’s pretty weak to trash someone for what they haven’t yet done.

  • drewsifer

    i concor

  • kyriakos

    The Guy surely can direct a good action scene.. maybe with a good script and sam raimi on his side he can make a good blockbuster, but i doubt if he has the mental capacity or the talent of Neill Blomkamp to create Good and complex movies with crazy special effects that can work in so many levels.

    God i wish they let Blomkamp do the Halo movie the short teaser film looks so cool and gory..

    it makes you really mad if you thing that he was rejected based on that material..

    I guess the producers wanted to do something like GIGOE or Transformers But Blomkamp wanted to do a R18 masterpiece…

    FUCK hollywood..

  • Spence

    @sad: Absolutely. You hit the nail on the head. What a load of shit this is. You’re all retards for talking it up like it’s even in the same category of Blomkamp’s work, besides the literal parallels? Read between the lines you fucktards.

    @G: Do you hate yourself then? You utterly fail at fucking reading comprehension. He was saying that the style of D9 is getting co-opted by Hollywood insiders, and that this may be what turns Jackson and Blomkamp of from making a sequel. NOT THAT ANYONE LITERALLY FUCKING READ A SCRIPT AND SAW THAT THIS WAS THE SEQUEL TO D9!

    God, don’t you just hate idiots with brain deficiencies?

  • Maopheus

    It’s hard to picture $30-40 mil being chump change but that’s pretty much what that amounts to nowadays in Hollywood so Raimi is really making a safe, small investment in Alvarez which only makes sense of course. No one is selling the farm completely for the guy given that he’s a rookie.

  • Indiana Jones’ Brother

    Yeah I don’t get it either. I mean it’s just a short film with robots blowing things up. So what? Why exactly are people impressed? The visual FX look pretty cool, but there really isn’t a story or any clear sign this guy can direct or has a unique vision. Meh.

  • Keith

    Short films like Attackazoids, The Listening Dead and Treevenge have the potential to be made into great feature films. Panic Attack was essentially a special effects demo reel.

  • Nestor

    I believe the lesson here guys is stop dreaming and talking and DO SOMETHING. Most of us didn’t have the talent, the time, or the guts to go out there, create something we believe in and show it to the world. This guy did it, got lucky and he is leaving the dream now. Good for him!

  • IceBreaker406

    Back in the 1990s OMNI magazine (published by Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione and his late wife Dr. Kahty Keeton) had a short story of a group of Carribean Sea based biologists who developed an ethnic-race specific super pathogen that wiped out 95% of Africa, India, the Middle East and Eastern Asia.
    Their rationale was “excessive bio-mass destroying the global enviornment”
    Now, why the heck doesn’t somebody make a film about something like that? “Outbreak” with Dustin Hoffman and renee Russo was a good effort but wouldn’t it be better to get away from this explosion-filled SFX driven epics???

  • I wonder if Mr Coburn could tell us where these republics he is talking about are located. After studying history for 40 years, I can’t think what republics he refers to.