There have been a number of TV reality shows surrounding movie-making over time. Current shows like “Face Off” and “Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge” give artists a chance to make it in the movie business. However, there were also shows in the past about movie making in general. The two big ones included Steven Spielberg’s “On the Lot,” where contestants shot short films each week for the competition, and “Project Greenlight,” where the winning of the contest was just the first step, and the second half of the season was about actually making the movie.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, two of the three producers on the original “Project Greenlight,” just announced that “Project Greenlight” is returning to HBO for a new season, believing that movie making technology finally caught up to the point where the show is more relevant. The first three seasons had their share of highs and lows, and when the movies from the first two seasons were both lackluster and easily forgotten, the show went with a genre theme in the third season and the horror movie “Feast” was the result. Here is a look at some of the highs and lows of the first three seasons of “Project Greenlight” as the series prepares for its return.
The First Two Seasons
In the first season, “Project Greenlight” was looking for a screenwriter to direct his own movie, so there were a lot of expectations for the winner. That winner was Pete Jones, who directed his script for “Stolen Summer.” The season was eye opening as Jones struggled from start to finish with the dramatic movie about a young man’s crisis of faith. Aidan Quinn, Bonnie Hunt and Kevin Pollak were the big stars and the movie grossed a total of $134,726.
The second season split up the winners, with a screenwriting winner and then a director winning the right to make their script. Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle won the directing gig and made Erica Beeney’s “The Battle of Shaker Heights,” which starred Shia La Beouf in a coming-of-age comedy drama. That movie only made $280,351. It was clear the show was on its last legs, as the movies failures were making it less popular.
Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton
By the third season, the producers knew they needed to try something new. They decided that the first two season’s themes were not something that could make them money in the long run, and that genre filmmaking might be the way to go. Therefore, they decided to find something genre specific and screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton’s horror movie “Feast” won the screenwriting portion of the competition. It was interesting to watch the show, because Dunstan and Melton immediately bolted the production of the movie and rushed to Hollywood to sign an agent.
As a result, these two screenwriters left the “Project Greenlight” series as the most successful. They ended up signing on to write four chapters of the “Saw” franchise, starting with “Saw IV.” They also wrote “The Collector” and “Piranha 3DD.”
Second generation Hollywood player John Gulager won the director’s chair for “Feast” and directed the horror movie about a group of strangers trapped in a bar when a creature attacks. His movie was still not a big success at the box office, with only a take of $341,808, but it did make over $3.5 million in DVD sales to be the most successful movie to come from “Project Greenlight.” He directed two sequels to “Feast” and most recently helmed “Piranha 3DD.”