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'Scorpion King' and 'Joy Ride' DTVs Coming

7 Aug, 2008 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Scorpion King 2

Home entertainment marketers may have their hands full with a boatload of theatrical features headed for DVD in the fourth quarter, as well as a big push behind Blu-ray Disc, the next-generation, high-definition format they hope will one day replace DVD.

But the direct-to-video initiatives many studios began in the past three or four years are not by any means taking a back seat.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment, one of the leaders in the Hollywood trend of producing DTV sequels to big theatrical hits, will premiere The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Aug. 19.

The film, actually a prequel, takes viewers back to the beginning of the saga of Mathayus, the young warrior who would become the Scorpion King. The film stars five-time Ultimate Fighting Championship winner Randy Couture as well as former Power Ranger Michael Copon.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau said The Scorpion King 2 is Universal's “most ambitious” DVD original to date, with production values “that deliver theatrical-style action, adventure and excitement.”

DTV sequels have been good business for Universal, Kornblau said, with three sequels to American Pie and three more DVD originals based on the cheerleader movie Bring It On selling between 1 million and 2 million copies apiece.

That translates into a cool consumer spending total of nearly $200 million.

“Clearly, consumers have a huge appetite for more stories from these franchises that they love,” Kornblau said.

DTV sequels, or prequels, are typically produced at a much lower budget than the theatrical originals, and generally feature few, if any, original cast members. In the case of the “American Pie” sequels, the sole mainstay has been Eugene Levy, while The Scorpion King 2 features all fresh faces.

Still, Universal is sticking to its guns. The first Scorpion King, which grossed more than $90 million during its 2002 theatrical run, starred champion wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The prequel features Couture, another celebrated strongman.

Like big theatrical DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, The Scorpion King 2 comes with a making-of documentary and other extras, including a featurette on the visual effects, deleted scenes and a gag reel. There's also a feature in which Couture discusses how he prepared for the role of the villainous King Sargon.

Also in the DTV pipeline is Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead, coming Oct. 7 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The sequel to the 2001 original, about three young road trippers terrorized by a homicidal trucker, also comes with a making-of documentary, a featurette on the make-up and a storyboard-to-scene comparison.

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