Imagine sauntering through your local Blockbuster or searching for the latest releases to add to your queue on Netflix. As you search, you come across titles such as Transmorphers and Snakes on a Train. Wait a second...
These aren't the movies that were so hyped up and sold out within minutes of opening! They are, however, copy-cats made from movie producing company, Asylum and according to an article in Sunday's New York Times, are actually boasting quite a profit.
The company produces these so-called "mockbusters" to coincide with the release of the actual blockbusters. They release them on DVD just prior to the release of the big name in the theater.
"Those films, Asylum says, turned a profit, too. At a time when digital cameras, computer editing and online video enable D.I.Y. auteurs to compete with B-movie studios, the Asylum has nonetheless become a self-sustaining success story."
Apparently, the company discovered the beauty of the B movie by accident when Asylum's owner, David Michael Latt produced his own short version of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds and released it on DVD when Stephen Spielberg and Tom Cruise's big blockbuster hit the theaters.
According to the article, the film clearly wasn't as successful as Cruise's hit, but it still turned a profit and thus a company of what Latt describes as "tie-in" films was born.
Before they began making tie-ins, or mockbusters, Latt and his partner, David Rimawi, whom he founded Asylum with, produced low-budget horror films.
"Whereas the Asylum had a well-defined audience as a horror-movie company, the mockbuster strategy aims at a broader and shallower demographic: some viewers have seen the real blockbuster and want more of the same thing, no matter how lo-fi; some are genre geeks, interested in low-budget adventure and sci-fi films; others rent the movie thinking it is something else (Web sites are rife with the scornful entries of duped film fans)."
So next time you see a title such as Alien vs. Hunter or The Da Vinci Treasure you better look again because you might end up coming home with the mockbuster instead of the blockbuster. But you never know. These doppelgangers might be better than their counterparts...