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Toronto 2012: What Eli Roth’s Midnight Madness Vehicle ‘Aftershock’ Could Do for a Moribund Dimension

Toronto 2012: What Eli Roth's Midnight Madness Vehicle 'Aftershock' Could Do for a Moribund Dimension

Dimension Films has been pretty quiet this year, releasing just a single movie – the colossally stupid “Piranha 3DD” – in theaters over the summer to box office that wouldn’t fill an A cup. With several productions in the works for potential 2013 release, the company is suddenly negotiating to grab U.S. rights to the horror film “Aftershock,” which is scheduled for its first public screening Tuesday, September 11, in the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto International Film Festival (a press-and-industry screening is set for Saturday).

UPDATE: The deal involves a $2 million minimum guarantee and a wide release.

Directed by Nicolás López, who wrote the script with Guillermo Amodeo and the film’s producer and star, director Eli Roth, “Aftershock” shows what happens when an earthquake hits a town in Chile and sets a group of partiers scurrying for survival as convicts, inmates and general chaos spill across the countryside. López and Roth are also collaborating on “The Green Inferno,” a horror film set in Peru to be directed by Roth that is scheduled for a late-fall shoot.

READ MORE: Eli Roth Aims to Make Horror Thriller ‘The Green Inferno’ His ‘Scariest and Most Intense Film’

Though no deal has closed (CAA is repping domestic rights), the “Aftershock” acquisition is the first of any stature from the program to bubble up at the Toronto fest, which began Thursday, though observers expect quite a few more in the coming weeks. The genre-stuffed Midnight Madness sidebar continues to be a ripe target for distributors searching for a quick-hit release and the possibility of a low-budget pick-up that catches on with gore-hungry audiences. Dimension could even try to get it out for Halloween, though Paramount’s “Paranormal Activity 4” and Open Road’s “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” are already slotted for the two weekends before October 31 this year. And a six-week turnaround for a marketing team is pushing it.

The genre division of the Weinstein Co. run by Bob Weinstein, Dimension has the thrillers “Dark Skies” and “Compulsion” and the comedies “The Black Marks” and “Scary Movie 5” in the works, with the last scheduled for release in April. A sequel to its 2005 pulp thriller “Sin City,” “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” is supposed to shoot this fall for an October 2013 opening.

But the company could use a surprise jolt, since its only middling successes in recent years were unnecessary extensions of withering franchises “Scream” and “Spy Kids.” “Aftershock,” which would have additional appeal among Hispanic audiences, could provide something more ground-shaking.

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