Direct-to-video

Direct-to-video or straight-to-video refers to the release of a film to the public immediately on home video formats rather than a theatrical release or television broadcast.[1]

Because inferior sequels or prequels of larger-budget films may be released direct to video, review references to direct-to-video releases are often pejorative. Direct-to-video release has also become profitable for independent filmmakers and smaller companies.[2] It is not unusual for a direct-to-video genre film (with a high-profile star) to generate well in excess of $50 million revenue worldwide.[3]

Reasons for releasing direct to video

A production studio may decide not to generally release a TV show or film for several possible reasons: a low budget, lack of support from a TV network, negative reviews, its controversial nature, that it may appeal to a small niche market, or a simple lack of general public interest. Studios, limited in the annual number of films to which they grant cinematic releases, may choose to pull the completed film from the theaters, or never exhibit it in theaters at all. Studios then generate revenue through video sales and rentals.[4] Direct-to-video films are marketed mostly through colorful box covers, instead of advertising, and are not covered by publications like Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide.[5]

Direct-to-video releases have historically carried a stigma of lower technical or artistic quality than theatrical releases.[6] Some films released direct to video are films which have been completed but were never released in movie theaters. This delay often occurs when a studio doubts a film's commercial prospects justify a full cinema release, or because its release window has closed. In film industry slang, such films are referred to as having been "vaulted".[7] Like B-movies shown in drive-in theaters in the mid-20th century, direct-to-video films employ both former stars and young actors who may become stars later.[5]

Direct-to-video releases can be done for films which cannot be shown theatrically due to controversial content, or because the cost involved in a theatrical release is beyond the releasing company.[8]

Animated sequels and feature-length episodes of animated series are also often released in this fashion.[8] The Walt Disney Company began making sequels to many of its animated films for video release beginning with The Return of Jafar (the sequel to Aladdin) in 1994 and Aladdin and the King of Thieves (the second sequel to Aladdin) in 1996. Universal Studios also began their long line of The Land Before Time sequels that same year.

Some horror films that are unsuccessful in theaters, like Witchcraft, begin successful direct-to-video franchises.[5] Studios may also release sequels or spin-offs to a successful live action film straight to DVD, due to a lack of budget in comparison to the original. An example is the Behind Enemy Lines series of films.

By 1994 an average of six new direct-to-video films appeared each week. Erotic thrillers and R-rated action films were the two most successful genres.[5] The family film segment is also a major part of direct-to-video sales. According to the Los Angeles Times:

Often, the downfall of live-action family films at the box office is their strength on video. Their appeal is to families with young children, who may go to only a couple of movies per year but who will watch many videos multiple times. The teens and young adults who drive blockbuster box office statistics stay away from family movies.[9]

During the Golden Age of Porn in the 1970s, many pornographic films were released in theatres, some of which became some of the highest-grossing films in their release years and in the pornography industry altogether. Towards the 1980s porn began to shift to video release, because video allowed the producers to work on extremely low budgets and dispense with some film production elements like scripts, and the increased privacy and convenience of the format change were preferred by the target market. During the 1990s, pornographers began releasing content through paysites on the Internet.

Physical format releases

Direct-to-video films screened theatrically

Occasionally, a studio that makes a movie that was prepared as a direct-to-video film will release it theatrically at the last minute due to the success of another film with a similar subject matter or an ultimate studio decision. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is an example of this. However, despite the movie's critically acclaimed success, its box-office performance was very poor, which has been attributed to its last minute decision to be released theatrically. The film had much better commercial success in its subsequent home video releases.

Other times, a direct-to-video movie may get a limited theatrical screening in order to build excitement for the actual release of the video such as was done for 2010's Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, and Planet Hulk, 2016's Batman: The Killing Joke [10] or 2013's Sharknado.

Direct-to-disc or "DVD Premiere"

As DVDs gradually replaced VHS videocassettes, the term "direct-to-DVD" replaced "direct-to-video" in some instances.[11] However, the word "video" does not necessarily refer to videocassettes; many publications continue to use the term "direct-to-video" for DVDs or Blu-ray discs. Both disc-based release types may also be referred to as "direct-to-disc". A new term sometimes used is "DVD premiere" (DVDP).[12] Such films can cost as little as $20 million,[3] about a third of the average cost of a Hollywood release.[13] According to Variety, American Pie: Band Camp sold a million copies in one week, despite retaining only two actors from the original trilogy.[14]

Some direct-to-DVD releases recently have tended to feature actors who were formerly bankable stars. In 2005, salaries for some of these direct-to-DVD actors in the multimillion-dollar range from $2 to $4 million (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and $4.5 to $10 million (Steven Seagal), in some cases exceeding the actors' theatrical rates.[3]

Digital releases

Direct-to-iTunes

Direct to iTunes is an online distribution method that avoids all upfront DVD production, marketing and distribution costs as well as upfront cinema distribution and marketing costs. Apple distributes the film for 30% of the revenue, while an additional 10–15% may go to the person who formats the film for iTunes compatibility.[15] The first independently produced feature-length motion picture to pursue the direct-to-iTunes marketing scheme was Ed Burns' Purple Violets, which debuted on iTunes on November 20, 2007. It was the first feature-length film to "premiere exclusively on iTunes". It was distributed exclusively on iTunes at a price of US$14.99 for a month before being made available through other distribution channels.[16] The movie, which was produced at a cost of $4 million, had premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, where it was reviewed positively, but only received modest distribution offers.[15] At the time of the Purple Violets release, most studios were not distributing via iTunes early in the process and only Walt Disney Studios, which was the first movie studio to distribute via iTunes,[15] was distributing at iTunes simultaneously with DVD distribution.[17] It was not very common for consumers to make digital movie purchases at the time.[18] The Polish brothers' 2011 For Lovers Only, which had virtually no production costs and was released to iTunes on July 12, is regarded as the first profitable feature length direct-to-iTunes product.[19] The direct-to-iTunes method is also becoming common with both books and music.

When Purple Violets was released, several short films had already been distributed through iTunes. Previously, marketing of short films had been prohibitive. However, Apple distributed the February 25, 2007 79th Academy Awards nominees for the Animated Shorts, Live Action Shorts and Documentary Shorts as well as half of the 2007 Sundance Film Festival shorts, beginning a new era.[15]

Direct-to-stream

Due to the growth of YouTube and other video-streaming websites, premieres of long-form films increasingly occur through online streams. Long-form films to premiere on YouTube or other sites include Home (2009), The Cult of Sincerity (2008), Life in a Day (2011), Eyes and Ears of God: Video Surveillance of Sudan (2012) and Zeitgeist: The Movie (2007). In 2010, Striker was the first Indian film to premiere on YouTube on the same day as it was premiered in theaters.

In 2013, the Netflix and Amazon Video subscription video streaming services began to release original content.

The V-Cinema and OVA markets in Japan

Naoko Iijima started her career appearing on late night TV variety, and then focused on such V-Cinema titles as Strawberry Times 4 and Zero Woman: Final Mission (Zero WOMAN 警視庁0課の女 Zero Woman: Keishichō 0-ka no onna) before moving into a career in mainstream movies and TV. Cult director Takashi Miike has released quite a few of his works as V-Cinema, perhaps preferring the freedom. Weather Report Girl (1995) starring Kei Mizutani is a rare case of a work being released to video and then recalled by the maker and released to theatres to considerable success. V-Cinema may be used for the sequels to a successful feature film (e.g. Zero Woman, Sasori, Kunoichi Ninpoden, Baka Yaro or Pantsu no Ana). The content can be sexier or more violent than a mainstream feature film.

In the case of anime, this is called original video animation (sometimes capitalized, and abbreviated OVA or OAV). They are often used to tell stories too short to fill a full TV season, or to take creative risk without pressures from TV studios and sponsoring companies[20] and were particularly common in the early 1990s. Sometimes OVAs garner enough interest to justify commissioning a full TV show, such as Tenchi Muyo!, El Hazard, and Read or Die.

With the convenience of the 13-episode season format, OVAs are less common now. The majority of OVAs released in today's market are usually continuations or reworkings of recently completed TV shows. For instance, the DVD release of a TV show might, as a sales hook, include a bonus episode that was never broadcast.

See also

References

  1. ^ Alvarez, Max J (1994-12-30). "Big Names Look For Bright Lights In Videoland". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  2. ^ Lerman, Laurence (September 17, 2001). "Independents' 'Bread and Butter'". Video Business. 21 (38). Section: Video Premieres.
  3. ^ a b c DVD Exclusive Online. "Stars, Money Migrate To DVDP (archived)". Archived from the original on 2006-05-15. Retrieved 2007-01-13.
  4. ^ Barlow, Aaron (2005). The DVD Revolution: Movies, Culture, and Technology. Praeger/Greenwood. p. 19. ISBN 0-275-98387-0. Films that flop in theaters or which are never theatrically released can prove profitable through longer-term video and DVD sales.
  5. ^ a b c d Alvarez, Max J. (1994-12-30). "Big Names Look For Bright Lights In Videoland". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  6. ^ Goodale, Gloria (October 23, 1998). "'Straight to Video' Picks up Steam". Christian Science Monitor.
  7. ^ Bernstein, Adam (2004-12-12). "Silent Films Speak Loudly for Hughes". The Washington Post. TVWeek p. Y06.
  8. ^ a b "More Films Jump Straight to DVD". USA Today. August 6, 2003. Section: Life, p. 03d.
  9. ^ Matzer, Marla (1997-04-16). "Direct-to-Video Family Films Are Hitting Home". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  10. ^ Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths gets big-screen Premieres on Two Coasts - Comicmix.com - February 5, 2010
  11. ^ Berardinelli, James. "DVD's Scarlet Letter". Retrieved 2007-01-13.
  12. ^ For one example of the term "DVDP" in use, see "Paramount grows DVDP slate". Retrieved 2007-01-13.
  13. ^ Mueller, Anne (23 Jun 2011). "Why Movies Cost So Much to Make". Investopedia US. IAC. Retrieved 24 Jul 2014.. As of 2007, the average production cost was $65 million, and distribution and marketing added about another $35 million, for a total of around $100 million
  14. ^ Hettrick, Scott (January 2, 2005). "Spending on DVDs up 10%". Variety. Retrieved 2007-01-13.
  15. ^ a b c d Halbfinger, David M. (2007-10-23). "Facing Competition, iTunes Revs Up Its Film Section". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  16. ^ Graser, Marc (2007-10-25). "Ed Burns offers 'Violets' on iTunes: Feature to skip theatrical release". Variety. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  17. ^ "Edward Burns - Movie Going Direct To Itunes". contactmusic.com. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  18. ^ Kirsner, Scott (2007-11-02). "Studio's Digital Dilemma: Apple Calling Shots as Biz Tries To Control Market". Variety. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  19. ^ "Stana Katic and Mark Polish Interview about For Lovers Only on Bloomberg West". YouTube. Bloomberg News. 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  20. ^ "Anime UK". 1 (1). 1991.

Further reading

  • Mayo, Mike (1997). VideoHound's Video Premieres: The Only Guide to Video Originals and Limited Releases. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 0-7876-0825-4.
Batman vs. Robin

Batman vs. Robin is a direct-to-video animated superhero film which is part of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies and DC Animated Movie Universe. The film is partially based on the Batman: The Court of Owls story arc written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, and serves as a sequel to 2014's Son of Batman. The film was shown during WonderCon on April 3, 2015. The film was released for downloading on April 7, 2015, and was released on Blu-ray and DVD formats on April 14, 2015.Stuart Allan, Jason O'Mara, David McCallum, and Sean Maher reprise their respective roles from Son of Batman.

Cuba Gooding Jr.

Cuba Michael Gooding Jr. (born January 2, 1968) is an American actor and comedian. After his breakthrough role as Tre Styles in Boyz n the Hood (1991), he appeared in A Few Good Men (1992), The Tuskegee Airmen (1995), Outbreak (1995), and Jerry Maguire (1996), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He gained later attention for his roles in Men of Honor (2000) as Carl Brashear, and in Michael Bay's WWII epic Pearl Harbor (2001) as Doris Miller. His other notable films include As Good as It Gets (1997), the ensemble farce Rat Race (2001), American Gangster (2007), Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013), and Selma (2014), playing civil rights attorney Fred Gray. In 2016, he portrayed O.J. Simpson in the FX drama series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and co-starred in the sixth season of the FX anthology series American Horror Story, subtitled Roanoke.

Disneytoon Studios

Disneytoon Studios, originally Disney MovieToons and was also Disney Video Premieres, was an American animation studio which created direct-to-video and occasional theatrical animated feature films. The studio was a division of Walt Disney Animation Studios, with both being part of The Walt Disney Studios, itself a division of The Walt Disney Company. The studio produced 47 feature films, beginning with DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp in 1990. Its final feature film was Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast in 2015.

Dolph Lundgren

Hans Lundgren (; Swedish: [ˈdɔlːf ˈlɵnːdgreːn] (listen); born 3 November 1957) is a Swedish actor, director, screenwriter, film producer and martial artist. Lundgren's breakthrough came in 1985, when he starred in Rocky IV as the imposing Soviet boxer Ivan Drago. Since then, he has starred in more than 40 films, almost all of them in the action genre.

Lundgren received a degree in chemical engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology in the early 1980s and a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney in 1982. He holds the rank of 3rd dan black belt in Kyokushin karate and was European champion in 1980–81. While in Sydney, he became a bodyguard for Jamaican singer Grace Jones and began a relationship with her. He received a Fulbright scholarship to MIT and moved to Boston. Jones convinced him to leave the university and move to New York City to be with her and begin acting, where, after a short stint as a model and bouncer at the Manhattan nightclub The Limelight, Lundgren got a small debut role as a KGB henchman in the James Bond film A View to a Kill.

After appearing in Rocky IV, Lundgren portrayed He-Man in the 1987 science fantasy film Masters of the Universe, Lt. Rachenko in Red Scorpion (1988) and Frank Castle in the 1989 film The Punisher. Throughout the 1990s he appeared in films such as I Come in Peace (1990), Cover-Up (1991), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991), Universal Soldier film series (1992, 2009, 2012), Joshua Tree (1993), Pentathlon (1994), Men of War (1994), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), The Shooter (1995), Silent Trigger (1996), The Peacekeeper (1997), and Blackjack (1998). In 2004 he directed his first film, The Defender, and subsequently directed The Mechanik (2005), Missionary Man (2007), Command Performance (2009), and Icarus (2010), also starring in all of them.

After a long spell performing in direct-to-video films since 1995, Lundgren returned to Hollywood in 2010 with the role of Gunnar Jensen in The Expendables, alongside Sylvester Stallone and an all-action star cast. He reprised his role in The Expendables 2 (2012) and The Expendables 3 (2014). Also in 2014, he co-starred in Skin Trade, an action thriller about human trafficking he co-wrote and produced. The film marks his third collaboration with Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, the previous two being Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) and Bridge of Dragons (1999). He reprised his role of Ivan Drago in Creed II (2018), and is due to reprise his role as Gunner Jensen in The Expendables 4 (2020). He appears in Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (2017), playing the protagonist's son Gil as an adult, and in Aquaman (2018), playing the father of Mera.

Jeff Bennett

Jeff Bennett (born October 2, 1962) is an American voice actor and singer. His voice roles include Johnny Bravo in the television series of the same name, Petrie in the Land Before Time films and television series, Mr. Smee and Bones in Jake and the Never Land Pirates, The Man With the Yellow Hat in Curious George, Raj in Camp Lazlo, Kowalski in The Penguins of Madagascar series and various other characters in films, television shows and video games.

In 2012, Bennett was awarded an Annie Award for his role in "The Penguins of Madagascar", and in 2016 he was awarded an Emmy Award for his role in Transformers: Rescue Bots. He has been listed among the top names in the voice-over field.

Lance Henriksen

Lance James Henriksen (born May 5, 1940) is an American actor, voice actor and artist, best known for his roles in science fiction, action, and horror films such as Bishop in the Alien film franchise, and Frank Black in Fox television series Millennium. Henriksen is also a voice actor who has voiced Kerchak the gorilla in the 1999 Walt Disney Feature Animation film Tarzan and Fleet Admiral Steven Hackett in BioWare's Mass Effect video game trilogy.

List of Scooby-Doo media

The following is a list of the various media from the Scooby-Doo franchise, which includes series, specials, films, video games, comics and theatrical productions.

Scooby-Doo! Shaggy's Showdown

Scooby-Doo! Shaggy's Showdown is a 2017 direct-to-DVD animated comedy mystery film, and the twenty-eighth entry in the direct-to-video series of Scooby-Doo films. It was released digitally on January 31, 2017 and was released on DVD on February 14, 2017.

Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost

Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost is a 2019 American animated direct-to-video supernatural comedy mystery film produced by Warner Bros. Animation and distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and the thirty-second entry in the direct-to-video series of Scooby-Doo films. The film is a continuation of the 1985 animated series The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. The film was released on DVD and digital on February 5, 2019.

Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders

Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders is a 2000 direct-to-video animated comic science fiction mystery film. Released on October 3, 2000, it is the third direct-to-video film based on the Saturday morning cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera. The film was produced by Warner Bros. Animation (though it had a Hanna-Barbera Cartoons logo and copyright notice at the end). Unlike the previous films, in spite of the grimmer atmosphere, it also had a lighter tone since the real monsters are the good guys and the disguised humans are the primary antagonists. It is the third of the first four Scooby-Doo direct-to-video films to be animated overseas by Japanese animation studio Mook Animation. It was the last film to feature Mary Kay Bergman as the voice of Daphne before her death in November 1999 and the film was dedicated to her memory.

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is a 1998 direct-to-video animated comedy horror film based on Hanna-Barbera's Scooby-Doo Saturday-morning cartoons. In the film, Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Velma, and Daphne reunite after a year-long hiatus from Mystery, Inc. to investigate a bayou island said to be haunted by the ghost of the pirate Morgan Moonscar.

It is the first in a long-running series of direct-to-video Scooby-Doo films; succeeded by Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost (1999). Production started at Hanna-Barbera, but was then completed by its then-new parent company, Warner Bros. Animation (which would produce all subsequent Scooby-Doo films). It was also the first of four Scooby-Doo direct-to-video films to be animated overseas by Japanese animation studio Mook Animation. The film was released direct-to-video on September 22, 1998 and premiered on Cartoon Network on October 31, 1998. The film received acclaim from critics who praised the animation, voices and writing. The film also has a much darker tone than the original series. Unlike in the original series, promotional commercials for the movie announced that "This time, the monsters are real!"

The movie was dedicated to the memory of Don Messick, the original voice of Scooby-Doo, who died nearly a year before the film's release. The movie is also one of Ed Gilbert's final roles.

Steven Seagal

Steven Frederic Seagal (; born April 10, 1952) is an American actor, producer, screenwriter, martial artist, and musician who holds American, Serbian, and Russian citizenship.

Seagal was born in Lansing, Michigan. A 7th-dan black belt in aikido, he began his adult life as a martial arts instructor in Japan, becoming the first foreigner to operate an aikido dojo in the country. He later moved to Los Angeles, California, where he had the same profession. In 1988, Seagal made his acting debut in Above the Law. By 1991, he had starred in four successful films. In 1992, he played Navy SEAL counter-terrorist expert Casey Ryback in Under Siege. During the latter half of the 1990s, Seagal starred in three more feature films and the direct-to-video film The Patriot. Subsequently, his career shifted to mostly direct-to-video productions. He has since appeared in films and reality shows, including Steven Seagal: Lawman, which depicted Seagal performing his duties as a reserve deputy sheriff.

Seagal is a guitarist and has released two studio albums, Songs from the Crystal Cave and Mojo Priest, and performed on the scores of several of his films. He has worked with Stevie Wonder and Tony Rebel, who both performed on his debut album. He has also been involved in a line of "therapeutic oil" products and energy drinks. In addition, Seagal is a known environmentalist, animal rights activist, and supporter of 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. He is known for his outspoken political views and support of Vladimir Putin, to whom he once referred as "one of the great living world leaders". He was granted Russian citizenship in 2016. In 2018, he was appointed Russia's special envoy to the U.S.From 1996 to 2018, multiple women accused Seagal of sexual harassment or assault.

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