There’s good news and bad news.
The good news is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new zombie thriller Maggie has been picked up by Lions Gate for distribution.
The bad news is Maggie will not premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next week.
The world famous Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is kicking off today, with a week and a half of viewing and almost 400 movies– many of them world premieres!
Maggie was to be one of those world premiere’s– opening on Sept 12. I had it as my first pick of all the movies in the festival, and couldn’t wait. Adding to the excitement was TIFF’s decision to not place it in the “Midnight Madness” category– a category reserved for “The wild side: midnight screenings of the best in action, horror, shock and fantasy cinema.” This meant the TIFF programmers were judging this as a drama, and not a horror film. (To give you an idea of what falls into that category: I caught the premiere of the first Saw movie a few years ago in a Midnight Madness showing). So this was a zombie movie with brains — and not just the kind for eating.!
And then last week came the news about Lions Gate’s purchase, and their decision to pull it out of the festival.
Lions Gate’s Co-Chief Operating Officer and Motion Picture Group President Steve Beeks:
Maggie has all the ingredients that spell commercial excitement—a compelling script and an ‘A’ list superstar surrounded by a world-class cast. We’re delighted to continue our relationship with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who turns in a performance that marks a dramatic departure from his action persona, and partner with our friends at Lotus Entertainment on a film that will resonate with thriller aficionados everywhere.
There is actually no word as to why the film was pulled from the festival. Many films show at TIFF for the first time– allowing them to generate buzz before their standard theatrical release months later. One can only speculate on Lions Gate’s reasoning.
Maggie takes place during a zombie apocalypse, but centers around the relationship between a Midwestern farmer (Schwarzenegger) and his daughter (Abigail Breslin: Zombieland, Little Miss Sunshine), as she slowly turns into the cannibalistic undead. It’s a departure from the standard action fare that marks most of Schwarzenegger’s movie career, and it remains to be seen whether or not he can pull it off.
Not only is this a departure for the “terminator,” it also appears to be a bit of a departure for zombie apocalypse films in general, by concentrating on a small personal event within the framework of a global catastrophe. I for one am intrigued by this “genre-blending” concept, and am sad I won’t get to report back on its success or failure next week. But I’ll be the first one in line when it hits the theaters early next year (Maggie does not have a set release date yet, but it’s expected to arrive in theaters in early 2015).