Eli (2019) started out as nothing more than a gleam in David Chirchirillo’s eye. He thought and thought and thought some more and, finally, Eli became a script!
Not just any script, neither! No, sir, the script for Eli was one boney-fide Black List worthy script for 2015! Each year, the Black List contains the names of the hottest unproduced scripts that make all the Hollywood bigwigs drool into their coin purses.
The story revolves around a young boy named Eli who is undergoing treatment for a rare disease at a secluded clinic, which becomes a haunted prison with no way out.
But, the poor script for Eli sat unwanted.
That is, until 2017 when the script was acquired by the brand-spankin’-new Paramount Players studio! The studio quickly grabbed the writing team behind The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing, to revise Eli‘s script and then production began.
Sinister 2 (2015) director, Ciarán Foy, got right to work! With the help of actors like Max Martini [TV’s NCIS: Los Angeles (2018-2019)], Kelly Reilly [TV’s True Detective (2015)], Sadie Sink (Netflix’s Stranger Things (2017-2019)], and Lili Taylor [Leatherface (2017)], the script magically turned into an actual feature-length horror movie.
The studio even gave Eli its very own release date! January 4, 2019 would be the day the world was finally introduced to Eli.
And then… tragedy struck. And by “tragedy” I mean the one guy at Paramount Players studio who liked the movie, studio head Brian Robbins, left. Apparently, nobody else at the studio had any idea what to do with Eli. They undated the film — took away its release date — and Eli‘s future was uncertain.
Netflix to the rescue! When all was thought to be lost, Netflix swooped in and purchased all global rights to the movie from Paramount Players. Seeing as how this was a Black List worthy script and was produced for a modest $11 million, exactly why the rights were sold remains a head scratcher. One studio’s trash is (often) Netflix’s “treasure”, though!
We’ll keep you posted with any updates to this Byzantine tale. Who knows? Maybe once Netflix releases it we’ll all be able to say, “Oh, so that’s why they got rid of it.” On the other hand, and as a big fan of the writing behind The Autopsy of Jane Doe, I’m hoping Eli turns out to be a winner.