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Warner to Bow Straight-to-Video Fare

30 May, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and Warner Bros. Pictures are collaborating to develop up to 15 straight-to-DVD feature films annually with budgets less than $5 million each.

The unit also will acquire third-party straight-to-DVD titles across all genres.

Initial production calls for a sequel to last year's $80 million Jessica Simpson commercial hit, The Dukes of Hazzard, which could hit retailers by the end of the year, according to a Warner spokesperson.

With less than 10% of the original film's theatrical budget, Simpson and co-stars Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott are not slated to appear in the sequel.

Kevin Tsujihara, president of WBHEG and Jeff Robonov, production president at Warner Bros. Pictures, would oversee the yet un-named business unit, which is planned to be operational by August with separate executive director, marketing, creative and business staffs.

Although not new to Hollywood, other major studios, including Warner Bros., already have straight-to-DVD strategies in place but would mark the first time a major allocated significant personnel and resources to such an endeavor.

Last month, Warner Home Video tapped filmmakers from “24,” “The X-Files” and The Blair Witch Project, when launching a new film line called Raw Feed, which would generate three sub-$5 million DVD titles, including Rest Stop, slated for retail release in the fourth quarter.

“We'd like to put together slates that have a mixture of genres,” Tsujihara told the Los Angeles Times.

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