Chris Suffield. The ‘direct to video’ (DTV) market has been around since birth of the video cassette, from low rent martial arts movies to the wealth of Disney sequels released every year. It was a big business then, but it’s a billion dollar market now.
The ‘direct to video’ (DTV) market has been around since birth of the video cassette, from low rent martial arts movies to the wealth of Disney sequels released every year. It was a big business then, but it’s a billion dollar market now.
Over the years, the straight to DVD movie has become a sub-genre in itself, with franchises starting in cinema but off the big screen and continuing on DVD. Chris Suffield gives the lowdown
From the big screen to the small
Horror movies that started in the cinema can often become DTV franchises in their own right, more often than not, with different directors taking over. For example, horror guru and director of both Hostel films and Cabin Fever, Eli Roth, had nothing to do with DTV Cabin Fever 2 (2009) or DTV Hostel 3, to be released in Dec in the US and expected in the UK next year.
With lower budgets and unknown actors, it is easier to make DTV films than cinema releases. DTV feature film The Howling Reborn, will be released in 2012, although the film is said to be unrelated to the previous Howling films. The similarities are obvious and is yet another franchise being born to DTV release. When Final Destination and Paranormal Activity cease to be successful, there’s no doubt their DTV will come calling.
It was a whooping 20 years after the original when cult classic The Lost Boys released a DTV sequel, starring Corey Feldman and a cameo from the late Corey Haim. Regardless of it being unworthy of calling itself a Lost Boys film, it sold enough copies to get a third film made two years later and a fourth is likely to be produced.
The Horror, The Horror!
However, the worst offenders of DTV are currently Dimension Extreme, a DVD label owned by The Weinstein Company. They have recently made bargain basement sequels to Hellraiser and Children of The Corn in order to retain the rights to the franchises. As both of those former theatrical franchises had long since been committed to DTV, these latest instalments are the killing blow, until the inevitable reboots.
The surface has barely been scratched on horror DTV sequels; there’s Hollow Man 2, Species 3 & 4, From Dusk Till Dawn 2 & 3, I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, Lake Placid 2 & 3, the list goes on. As one of the most durable genres in home entertainment, horror, DTV sequels are destined to always be around in abundance.
Marley & Me became an unexpected hit when it was released in 2008, so news of a sequel was hardly a surprise. The surprise was, however, that the studio opted for a DTV follow up; Marley and Me: The Puppy Years, released last June in the USA. Cheerleading comedy Bring It On has managed 4 sequels, other notable follow ups include Mean Girls 2, Without A Paddle 2, Van Wilder 2 & 3 and four American Pie instalments, all of which featured Jim’s Dad, played by original cast member Eugene Levy.
It’s perhaps with American Pie that the power of DTV is highlighted; the first remake Band Camp sold over one million copies in its first week of release. The other DTV entries in the series sold so well that the big screen came calling again. American Pie: Reunion is in cinemas next year, with all the original cast reprising their roles.
Original cast not always required
In The Scorpion King 3, the latest DTV spin off from The Mummy franchise expected early next year, Dwayne Johnson is long gone, but in his place are Ron Pearlman and Billy Zane. Jason Statham starred in the remake of Death Race, an ultra violent car racing movie that was a huge success on DVD. The studio saw life in the franchise and produced a DTV Statham free prequel, Death Race 3, which is now in production and starring former Bros member Luke Goss.
Another Statham absent sequel is In The Name Of The King 2. The first film is widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made and cost a staggering $60 million. This time Dolph Lundgren picks up the sword and DTV king Uwe Bowl directs, with a drastically reduced budget.
Starship Troopers got a belated sequel, and the recent part 3 lured Casper Van Dien back to kill slightly less impressive looking CGI bugs. Then every once in a while a really odd one shows up; in 2009 S.Darko was the unwanted sequel to cult classic Donnie Darko. This time the focus is on his sister (played by the same actress, Daveigh Chase), but the story contradicted the original film and offered nothing new.
Children’s films And Disney
Disney has cornered the kids market for DTV movies; over the years they have produced more than 35 sequels to their back catalogue. From The Lion King to Honey We Shrunk Ourselves. Disney identified DTV as a lucrative market back in 1994, producing their first DTV sequel; The Return of Jafar. The follow up to Aladdin was sadly minus the voice of Robin Williams, but this didn’t stop the film being a big hit. Disney were able to tempt Robin Williams back for the next one; Aladdin and The King of Thieves, which still stands as one of the most successful DTV sequels of all time. Unbelievably Toy Story 2 was originally pitted for a DTV release, which was soon changed once Disney executives watched a rough cut of the film.
Generally, DTV are all fine examples of lazy filmmaking and profiting off a successful film with a bad follow up; a most sequels are just that. Quite simply, whether you love or hate DTV sequels; as long as we keep buying them, Hollywood will keep making them.