The Asylum comes to Pensacola

An indie film crew is shooting scenes in downtown Pensacola for a movie tentatively called From The Sea, according to second unit director (and UWF instructor) Paul Sinor, who noted that the title is “likely to change” before release.

Well, of course it’s going to change. The eventual title will be Atlantic Rim. As with most films produced by the Asylum, the title is the movie’s raison d’être.

Even if you’ve never heard of the Asylum, you’ve probably seen some of their films while watching Syfy, browsing Netflix, or perusing the selection at your corner store’s Redbox — movies like Transmorphers, Paranormal Entity, and Battle of Los Angeles. These extremely low budget, usually direct-to-video flicks have names and plots that are cannily similar to their Hollywood blockbuster counterparts (i.e. Transformers, Paranormal Activity, and Battle: Los Angeles). The idea is to piggyback on the popularity and expensive marketing campaigns of the big budget movie and sell the knockoffs (known as “mockbusters“) to gullible consumers. Even the posters are similar.

Since 2005, the Asylum has become known as the undisputed king of the mockbuster genre. They’ve capitalized on the fact that many action movies are based on stories and characters in the public domain. So when the big studios make movies called War of the Worlds, Sherlock Holmes, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, there’s nothing keeping the Asylum from following them with H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and Hansel and Gretel. The stories can stray wildly from there, of course; for example, Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock didn’t face off against dinosaurs, dragons, and other monsters.

In this case, Atlantic Rim is a blatant knockoff of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, a sci-fi action movie about giant robots who are created to fight kaiju-style creatures who rise from the deep. Pacific Rim has an estimated budget of over $200 million and is slated for release in July. Atlantic Rim, presumably, has a much smaller budget, but will hit DVD shelves and video on demand (VOD) services around the same time.

What’s the evidence that From The Sea is actually the Asylum’s Atlantic Rim? First, there’s the plot.

“The storyline is that these monsters come from the sea,” Sinor told the PNJ. “The sea floor opens up and these things come out. They terrorize the East Coast from Miami to Washington D.C., and the good guys send them back packing.”

Compare that to the synopsis for Atlantic Rim:

When giant monsters crawl out of the Atlantic Ocean and attack the Eastern Seaboard, the US Government is forced to trust A.I. robots to defend the country.

If there was any remaining doubt, the PNJ story identified Christopher Olen Ray as one of the movie’s producers. Ray has previously produced a number of the Asylum’s pictures and directed Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus and Almighty Thor.

Apparently, Pensacola’s downtown will serve as the movie’s version of some larger East Coast cities, with the area around Plaza Ferdinand doubling as Times Square.

Want to be involved in the production? They’re still looking for extras as filming will continue in Pensacola and Perdido Key through February 25.