As of last Halloween, the DreamWorks film “Monster House” was set to begin production last February. The project, about three young neighborhood friends who discover one of the houses is a kid-eating monster, was then delayed until June. And then little was heard about the project, other than a cryptic e-mail FilmJerk.com received, which simply stated that “I thought you might like to know that they closed the production offices today. No more movie.”
It’s not often a film finds its production offices closing so close to production, especially one being produced by Robert Zemeckis. After some inquiries, we were able to uncover some details as to what lead to the film’s downfall. Even after initial pre-production began last October, the script was still being worked on, with the final draft being turned in shortly after the New Year. The rewrites were approved by both Zemeckis and DreamWorks partner Steven Spielberg, and effects people were brought in to create first stage animatics, a series of storyboards, still images and animation, which help the filmmakers pre-visualize the major sequences of a film before production. According to sources who spoke to FilmJerk.com on the condition of anonymity, Jeffrey Katzenberg – who had given tentative approval for the film to begin pre-production – was shown a series of animatics on or around April 8, and shut down production right then and there. We have been unable to confirm the reason for the project at DreamWorks.
However, this story does have a happy ending. As the project had originated with Zemeckis and his company Imagemovers, he was free to take it to other studios. Just as quietly as DreamWorks had shut pre-production down, Sony stepped in to commit to the film’s production and release. Production will now begin in Los Angeles around August 23, with recent UCLA film school graduate Gil Kenan still scheduled to make his feature directorial debut. Additionally, Steven Spielberg has come aboard the project, sharing executive producer credit with Robert Zemeckis.
A request to DreamWorks for comment on this story was not returned.