Tucked inside the Arts section of this weekend's New York Times was a little story that caught my eye: "Universal Sells Rogue for $150 Million." As a connoisseur of fine cinema, the name Rogue Pictures immediately jumped out, as it might to you as well. The reason? They are the production company and distributor that has helped bring some pretty stand out genre films to our theaters over the past couple of years. Titles such as "Seed of Chucky," "Assault on Precinct 13" (the remake), "The Hitcher" (the remake), "Hot Fuzz," and more recently "The Strangers" and "Doomsday" all were handled at some level by Rogue. That might not be a flawless track record (though, in the right mood, I might defend "The Hitcher" remake), but it's a pretty solid one in this day and age, and things should only pick up from there.
While 2008 saw only two theatrical releases from Rogue, 2009 already features a slate chock-full of genre goodness. Titles include "The Unborn," "The Last House on the Left," Wes Craven's poorly named "25/8," Bryan ("The Strangers") Bertino's "Alone," and a couple that weren't on my radar, but that IMDB lists as 2009, "Dark Island" and "The Belcoo Experiment."
As the Times noted, the sale of Rogue by Universal — whose parent company has run into financial problems — to the privately owned Relativity Media should be taken as a sign of strength in what the paper calls the "audience pleasing" genres of horror and action. This of course is no surprise to those of us who hang around these parts, but its encouraging to see business indicators line up with what we the fans have felt for a long time, particularly with the recent death of New Line and rumblings coming from long-time horror fount Lions Gate that they may be moving in a different direction.
Perhaps the biggest reason for celebration, though, comes from a quote from Relativity's CEO:
"'It doesn’t actually change the character of our company. It just further expands the business plan,' Ryan Kavanaugh, Relativity’s chief executive, said Sunday. Mr. Kavanaugh said he expected Rogue to produce a wider range of supernatural horror and other films than it had made under Universal, which occasionally restricted the unit’s offerings to keep it from competing with the main studio operation."
Rogue has had a solid history of putting out content for horror fans, but it would seem that under Relativity's leadership they may be even more aggressive in creating "audience-friendly" fare. As a member of that prospective audience, I find that to be a pleasing development.