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Direct-to-Video Continues to Thrive

11 Aug, 2008 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Universal Studios Home Entertainment is going all out with its next direct-to-video sequel, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, out Aug. 19. Studio president Craig Kornblau calls it the studio's “most ambitious” DVD original to date, with production values “that deliver theatrical-style action, adventure and excitement.”

What's more, the prequel to the 2002 theatrical hit comes with its own making-of documentary, gag reel and deleted scenes, along with several featurettes, including one on the visual effects.

The release underscores how serious studios are about their respective DTV initiatives. In Universal's case, DTV has been a goldmine, with three sequels to “American Pie” and another three to “Bring It On” selling a combined total of more than 10 million units, for nearly $200 million in consumer spending.

Kornblau says it's a natural: Thousands of people buy tickets to see movies in theaters, and then storm back to see theatrical sequels. “Clearly, consumers have a huge appetite for more stories from these franchises that they love,” Kornblau told me for a story in this issue (see story, page 30).

But think of how many popular movies do not spawn theatrical sequels, for whatever reasons. Maybe the franchise loses its flair just enough to no longer warrant an expensive theatrical picture; maybe when the film was produced, no one was thinking sequel — or prequel, as the case may be.

The latter was the scenario for Universal's successful Carlito's Way: Rise to Power DTV prequel, which premiered on DVD in 2005, 12 years after the original Carlito's Way opened in theaters. The film didn't attract many critical raves and featured a cast of mostly unknowns, but on home video it was a big success.

American Pie, on the other hand, spawned two very successful theatrical sequels before it went into DTV land.

The way things are going, it wouldn't surprise me at all if one day we see a Spider-Man 7 premiering on DVD and Blu-ray Disc instead of on the big screen. And you know what? My kids would love it.

The other day I brought home 10,000 B.C., and the three boys stayed on the couch after the final credits. “Daddy,” Hunter, the youngest, cried. “Can we see 10,000 B.C. 2?”

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