The Asylum

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The Asylum
Type Film
TV DVD Distribution
Founded 1997
Founder(s) David Michael Latt
David Rimawi
Sherri Strain
Headquarters Burbank, California[1], United States
Owner(s) Privately held
Divisions Faith Films
Website www.TheAsylum.cc

The Asylum is an American film studio and distributor which focuses on producing low-budget, direct-to-video productions. The studio has produced titles that capitalize on productions by major studios, usually resorting to film titles and scripts very similar to those of current blockbusters in order to lure customers. These titles have been dubbed "mockbusters" by the press.[2][3][4][5][6] Its titles are distributed by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment and as of 2013, GT Media.

History[edit]

The Asylum was founded by former Village Roadshow executives David Rimawi, Sherri Strain, and director David Michael Latt in 1997.[2] The company focused on producing straight-to-video low-budget films, usually in the horror genre, but were unable to find a market due to competition from major studios, such as Lions Gate Entertainment.[2] In 2005, the company produced a low-budget adaptation of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, which was released in the same year as Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the same material. Blockbuster Inc. ordered 100,000 copies of The Asylum's adaptation, a significantly larger order than any of the company's previous releases, resulting in Latt and Rimawi reconsidering their business model.[2][6]

In 2007, similarities between the distributor's titles and those of major studios were reported. For example, the film Transmorphers bears a number of similarities to the film Transformers, which was released theatrically two days after the release of Transmorphers.[2][3][6] According to Latt, "I'm not trying to dupe anybody. I'm just trying to get my films watched. Other people do tie-ins all the time; they’re just better at being subtle about it. Another studio might make a giant robot movie that ties into the Transformers release and call it Robot Wars. We’ll call ours Transmorphers."[2] In 2008, 20th Century Fox threatened legal action against The Asylum over The Day the Earth Stopped, a film capitalizing on The Day the Earth Stood Still.[7]

In May 2012, Universal Studios filed a lawsuit against The Asylum for their film American Battleship, claiming infringement on their movie Battleship.[8][6] As a result, the studio changed the title to American Warships.

In November 2012, Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, MGM and The Hobbit producer Saul Zaentz commenced legal action against The Asylum for their film Age of the Hobbits, claiming that they were "free-riding" on the worldwide promotional campaign for Peter Jackson's forthcoming films. The Asylum claimed its movie is legally sound because its hobbits are not based on the J. R. R. Tolkien creations.[9] The lawsuit resulted in a temporary restraining order preventing The Asylum from releasing the film on its scheduled release date.[10][6]

Production[edit]

The Asylum work schedule is typically four months from decision to create a title to finished product, with the script finished within four to six weeks.[5] Pre-production is afforded only a few weeks, production is "a couple of weeks" (In the case of Mega Piranha, it took longer because it was shot in Belize).[11] Filming takes an average of 12 to 15 pages of the script a day.[5]

Output[edit]

The Asylum's usual budget for a production is reportedly "well under a million dollars", and it typically breaks even after about three months. The Asylum has never lost money on a film.[11][12] The studio's productions have been called B movies[2] and "mockbusters".[2][4] Latt prefers the term "tie-ins" to "mockbusters",[2] stating that The Asylum's productions, even those that capitalize on major releases, contain original stories.[2] Latt states that the studio plans its productions around the word of mouth of the financial prospects of upcoming films.[4] The studio's films are usually released on video shortly before the theatrical release of a major studio film with similar themes or storylines.[4]

The Asylum has also produced films with strong religious themes.[2] For example, The Apocalypse was initially developed as a straightforward disaster film in the style of Deep Impact, but Latt states that certain buyers wanted the company to develop a religious film.[2] As a result, the company consulted priests and rabbis in order to incorporate faith-based elements.[2] The division Faith Films was created in order to distribute titles with such themes.[2] Sunday School Musical was produced after The Asylum staff attended a seminar for marketing to a Christian audience where the seminar's host suggested that the perfect film would be a Christian version of High School Musical.[5]

The Asylum productions sometimes feature more overt sexuality or graphic violence than their major studio counterparts, because The Asylum's releases are not in competition with films rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America.[4] Rolf Potts of The New York Times described Transmorphers as having "no recognizable actors, no merchandising tie-ins and a garbled sound mix. Also unlike Transformers, it has cheap special effects and a subplot involving lesbians."[2]

The 2008 release Death Racers featured the hip hop group Insane Clown Posse and wrestler Scott "Raven" Levy in major roles.[13] In 2009 the Asylum released their first 3D comedy, Sex Pot, and in 2010 they produced SyFy's top rated creature film so far that year, Mega Piranha starring Barry Williams, Paul Logan, and the 80's pop star Tiffany.[14]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Director Notes Mockbuster of
1999 Bellyfruit Kerri Green The Asylum's first feature film. N/A
2001 Fourplay Mike Binder Also known as Londinium. N/A
2004 Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill Byron Werner N/A
Vampires vs. Zombies Vince D'Amato Also known as Carmilla, the Lesbian Vampire N/A
2005 H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds David Michael Latt Also known as Invasion or H. G. Wells' The Worlds in War outside of North America. Setting update of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. War of the Worlds
King of the Lost World Leigh Scott King Kong
2006 Snakes on a Train Peter Mervis Directed by Mervis under the pseudonym "The Mallachi Brothers" Snakes on a Plane
The Da Vinci Treasure The Da Vinci Code
When a Killer Calls When a Stranger Calls
666: The Child Jack Perez The Omen
Halloween Night Mark Atkins N/A
Pirates of Treasure Island Leigh Scott Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Hillside Cannibals The Hills Have Eyes
The 9/11 Commission Report United 93 and World Trade Center
Dragon Eragon
2007 Transmorphers Transformers
The Hitchhiker The Hitcher
AVH: Alien vs. Hunter Scott Harper Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
The Apocalypse Justin Jones N/A
Invasion of the Pod People The Invasion
30,000 Leagues Under the Sea Gabriel Bologna Setting update of the Jules Verne novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. N/A
666: The Beast Nick Everhart Sequel to 666: The Child N/A
Freakshow Drew Bell Remake of the 1932 film Freaks N/A
I Am Omega Griff Furst I Am Legend
2008 100 Million BC 10,000 BC
2012: Doomsday Nick Everhart Doomsday
Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls Mark Atkins Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Death Racers Roy Knyrim Death Race
Journey to the Center of the Earth Scott Wheeler and David Jones Journey to the Center of the Earth
Monster Eric Forsberg Cloverfield
Street Racer Teo Konuralp The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Sunday School Musical Rachel Lee Goldenberg The Asylum's first family musical under Faith Films. High School Musical 3: Senior Year
The Day the Earth Stopped C. Thomas Howell The Day the Earth Stood Still
War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave Sequel to H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds N/A
2009 The Land That Time Forgot Land of the Lost
Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus Ace Hannah N/A
18-Year-Old Virgin Tamara Olson
Sex Pot Eric Forsberg
Princess of Mars Mark Atkins Retitled The Martian Colony Wars in some European countries. Avatar
Haunting of Winchester House The Haunting in Connecticut
The Terminators Xavier Puslowski Terminator Salvation
Transmorphers: Fall of Man Scott Wheeler Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
2012: Supernova Anthony Fankhauser 2012
Paranormal Entity Shane Van Dyke Paranormal Activity
2010 6 Guns Jonah Hex
Titanic II N/A
The 7 Adventures of Sinbad Adam Silver
Ben Hayflick
Title changed from The 7 Voyages of Sinbad due to legal issues. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
8213: Gacy House Anthony Fankhauser Also known as Paranormal Entity 2: Gacy House. Paranormal Activity 2
Mega Piranha Eric Forsberg Piranha 3D
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes Rachel Lee Goldenberg Sherlock Holmes
MILF Scott Wheeler N/A
Moby Dick Trey Stokes Also known as 2010: Moby Dick or Moby Dick: 2010. Setting update of Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick. N/A
Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus Christopher Ray N/A
2011 Almighty Thor Thor
Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes Jude Gerard Prest Also known as Paranormal Entity 3: The Exorcist Tapes. Paranormal Activity 3
Battle of Los Angeles Mark Atkins Battle: Los Angeles
3 Musketeers Cole McKay The Three Musketeers
200 mph Fast Five
11/11/11 Keith Allen 11-11-11
Barely Legal Jose Montesinos N/A
The Amityville Haunting George Meed
Zombie Apocalypse Nick Lyon
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid Mary Lambert
Princess and the Pony Rachel Lee Goldenberg The Asylum's first family film not marketed under Faith Films.
2012 Grimm's Snow White Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror
2-Headed Shark Attack Christopher Ray
Bikini Spring Break Jared Cohn Spring Breakers
Hold Your Breath N/A
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies Richard Schenkman Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Alien Origin Mark Atkins Prometheus
100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck Martin Anderson Also known as Paranormal Entity 4: The Awakening. Paranormal Activity 4
American Warships Thunder Levin Title changed from American Battleship due to legal issues. Battleship
Clash of the Empires Joseph Lawson Title changed from Age of the Hobbits due to legal issues.
Also known as Lord of the Elves.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Nazis at the Center of the Earth Retitled Bloodstorm in the UK. Iron Sky
Rise of the Zombies Nick Lyon N/A
2013 500 mph Storm Daniel Lusko N/A
AE: Apocalypse Earth Thunder Levin After Earth and Oblivion
Alone for Christmas Joe Lawson Plot has similarities with Home Alone, only with animals. N/A
Attila Emmanuel Itier N/A
Atlantic Rim[1] Jared Cohn Pacific Rim
Hansel & Gretel Anthony C. Ferrante Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Sharknado N/A
Jack the Giant Killer Mark Atkins Jack the Giant Slayer
Mother Mark Quod Also released as Social Nightmare. N/A
2014 Age of Dinosaurs Joseph Lawson N/A
Age of Tomorrow James Kondelik Edge of Tomorrow
Airplane vs. Volcano N/A
Alpha House Neighbors
Android Cop Mark Atkins RoboCop
Apocalypse Pompeii Ben Demaree Pompeii
Asian School Girls Lawrence Silverstein N/A
Asteroid vs. Earth Christopher Ray N/A
Mercenaries The Expendables 3
Bermuda Tentacles Nick Lyon N/A
Hercules Reborn Hercules and The Legend of Hercules
Jailbait Jared Cohn N/A
Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark Emile Edwin Smith N/A
Sharknado 2: The Second One Anthony C. Ferrante N/A
Sleeping Beauty Casper Van Dien Maleficent

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Katz, David. "From Asylum, the People Who Brought You (a Movie Kinda Sorta Like) Pacific Rim". GQ. Retrieved 2013-07-25. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Potts, Rolf (October 7, 2007). "The New B Movie". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Borrelli, Christopher (July 3, 2009). "Bizarro Blockbusters". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 12, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Movie 'Mockbusters' Put Snakes on Trains". National Public Radio. December 8, 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d Solomon, Dan (August 23, 2011). "How to Make a Mockbuster (In Five Easy Steps)". Adult Swim. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Somma, Brandon (2013-01-04). "Masters of the Mockbuster:What The Asylum Is All About". The Artifice. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  7. ^ "Fox takes action against 'Day the Earth Stopped' ". The Hollywood Reporter. November 11, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Someone Finally Decides to Sue The Asylum: Universal Not Happy About Battleship Knock-Off". Internet Movie Database. 
  9. ^ "The Hobbit producers sue 'mockbuster' film company". BBC. 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  10. ^ Fritz, Ben (December 10, 2012). "'Hobbit' knockoff release blocked by judge". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Latt, David. "[1]" 'Interview, 'Front Row', BBC Radio 4', July 16, 2010.
  12. ^ Patterson, John. "Seeking Asylum: the rise of Hollywood's Z-movies" The Guardian, July 30, 2009.
  13. ^ McLendon, Gary (September 16, 2008). "Henrietta actor has had varied life". Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York). 
  14. ^ Mega Piranha at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]