Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Levinson has just found a distributor for his first horror film, a found footage tale of what happens when a deadly disease moves from the sea onto the land, called The Bay. Lionsgate has acquired the rights to the film, which was produced by the team behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious: Jason Blum, Steven Schneider and Oren Peli. Read the official press release and more after the break.

One of the most intriguing aspects of The Bay is that we finally get a found footage movie from an experienced filmmaker. An Oscar-winner at that. The biggest successes in the genre – The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, just to name a few – all came from relatively inexperienced directors at the time, so it’s going to be interesting to see if Levinson’s decades of experience in almost every genre – from sports, to dramas, comedies and thrillers – will have any additional effect on the success of The Bay. We’ll finally find out if found footage movies are strictly for newbies.

Here’s the official press release from Lionsgate, which outlines the plot and provides quotes from the principals:

LIONSGATE, a leading global entertainment company, today announced that it has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Barry Levinson’s found footage eco-horror film THE BAY from Alliance Films.  The announcement was made jointly by Joe Drake, President of the Motion Picture Group, and Jason Constantine, President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions.

From the producers of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise, the film is the next installment in their series following INSIDIOUS, and chronicles an unprecedented biological disaster unleashed from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay- an isopod parasite, carrying a horrific untreatable disease, that jumps from fish to human hosts. The true horror and scope of the event unfolds on footage captured on home videos and the internet by the town’s victims.

“Ingenious genre films are and always will be a specialty at Lionsgate,” explained Drake of the choice to acquire the film. “THE BAY is a shining example of the kind of truly fresh horror film that audiences are always ready for, and that we excel at eventizing with them.  Thanks to Barry, we’ll all be afraid to go in the water for years to come.”

Adds Constantine, “We have been big admirers of Jason Blum, Steven Schneider and Oren Peli since their breakout hit PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, and are thrilled to be in business with them.  This film works so effectively because it establishes a very natural, everyday world, places the audience intimately within it, and then sits back as everything takes a horrific turn.  Barry has incorporated found footage to the most satisfying possible effect, and it’s all the scarier for not relying on anything supernatural.”

“It’s exciting to see a company like Lionsgate embrace The Bay so enthusiastically. The found footage / multiplatform approach opened up the film to creative possibilities I hadn’t encountered in my previous films, and I think these sorts of films will only continue to push boundaries as the technology changes,” said director Barry Levinson.

The film was directed by Levinson, from a script he co-wrote with Michael Wallach.  THE BAY was produced by Levinson, Jason Blum, Steven Schneider, and Oren Peli, and co-produced by Mythodic Films, with Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Jason Sosnoff, Colin Strause, and Greg Strause executive producing.

THE BAY is an Alliance presentation in association with IM Global. IM Global handled foreign sales, and Alliance will distribute in Canada, the UK and Spain.

Lionsgate is great at marketing and distribute horror films so, without a Saw movie out this year, maybe this will be their big October release. What do you think?

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