Paramount Pictures has reunited with Paranormal Activity (pictured) director Oren Peli, paying high seven figures for US rights to the in-demand film-maker’s alien thriller follow-up Area 51.

IM Global CEO Stuart Ford, CAA, Incentive Filmed Entertainment chairman David Molner and attorneys Linda Lichter and Jamie Feldman closed the deal with the studio last week following a protracted negotiation process that had dragged on for close to a month.

Paramount beat out rival bids from DreamWorks and Lionsgate. Summit Entertainment had also been in the race but withdrew earlier in the process.

IM Global recently sold out international rights to Area 51 at AFM, where buyers scarcely needed the incentive of an imminent domestic deal to drive business in the wake of Paranormal Activity’s stunning US box office. Ford licensed Area 51 to Momentum in the UK, Concorde in Germany, Euro TV in France, Zelta in Spain, Village Roadshow in Australia and New Zealand, PlayArte in Latin America, and Alliance in Canada, among others.

Ford previously sold out the ultra low-budget Paranormal Activity at AFM 2008 and in a masterstroke sealed the domestic deal with DreamWorks after inviting executives to a screening that was packed out with teenagers. Paranormal Activity — made for a mere $15,000 — grossed more than $106m in North America this year and is on the cusp of its international roll-out, having just opened this weekend in the UK and Spain.

Incentive and the Aramid Entertainment Fund fully financed Area 51, which was written and directed by Peli. Plot details remain under wraps, however the title refers to the infamous top-secret military site in the Nevadan desert that for years has been the subject of UFO and other conspiracy theories.

Area 51 is in post-production and it is understood Paramount is eager to schedule a release as soon as possible in 2010. Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum produced through his Blumhouse Productions and Steven Schneider of Room 101 served as executive producer alongside Ford and Amir Zbeda.

“Moviegoers everywhere demanded to see Oren Peli’s spectacular debut and we are excited to show them what he’s created next,” Paramount production president Adam Goodman said.

“We are certainly happy to continue working with the agile and talented production, marketing and distribution teams at Paramount that made Paranormal Activity such a remarkable success,” Peli and Blum said.

“These films show that real franchises can be successfully launched from the independent side of the business – not something the marketplace necessarily believed five years ago,” Incentive’s chairman David Molner said. “As financiers, we’re very lucky to create value in partnership with major distributors like Paramount Pictures and the enviable talents of Jason, Oren, and IM Global.” 

“With the international distribution already set up on the film, bringing Paramount onboard after they did such distinguished work on Paranormal Activity is the perfect finale, and most important piece in the jigsaw,” Ford added. “We’re very proud to be in business with Adam and his team on another Oren Peli movie.”