Zach Cregger scored one of 2022’s breakout hits with the bitingly funny, socially attuned horror movie Barbarian, and clearly the film industry has taken notice. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a colossal bidding war over his follow-up project ended with New Line paying a hefty sum for the rights to his follow-up film, Weapons.
THR revealed that major offers for Cregger’s project went out “sight unseen” and before the project was officially available to be reviewed. The deal with New Line reportedly nets Cregger “eight figures to write and direct,” along with a rare amount of significant creative control, ranging from a promised theatrical release to final cut. Though Cregger directed one feature before Barbarian, the 2009 Playboy-centric comedy Miss March, Barbarian established him as one of the most exciting new voices in the horror genre.
If Weapons is a success, Warners and New Line hope to make Cregger a major part of their horror output, perhaps similar to Jordan Peele or Jason Blum’s continued relationship with Universal Pictures. (Universal was in the final running with New Line before the latter got its deal done the afternoon of January 24.) The theatrical guarantee speaks to the continued success of horror movies at the box office, even while the film climate still reckons with the impact of streaming. Over the last year, movies like Nope, Smile, and M3gan have rode clever marketing, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth buzz to massively successful theatrical runs.
Details about Weapons are scant, though THR wrote that it has been “described as an interrelated, multistory horror epic that tonally is in the vein of [Paul Thomas Anderson’s] Magnolia.”
In a December 2022 interview with GQ, Cregger spoke about his writing process, saying, “When I write, I feel like it’s not up to me what happens, almost…Stephen King has that really amazing quote about how you’re a paleontologist unearthing a dinosaur skeleton one bone at a time and you don’t know the shape of the dinosaur. That’s what I do.” (He also revealed in unused segments of the interview that he wrote a large portion of Weapons during a lengthy East Coast stay at his manager’s home.)
Barbarian, which starred Georgina Campbell, Justin Long, and Bill Skarsgård, was inspired in part by Cregger’s experience as the child of an alcoholic, as well as his experience reading the Gavin de Becker book The Gift of Fear, which explores the importance of innate gut instincts in human survival.