|Founder||David Michael Latt
|Headquarters||Burbank, California, United States|
The Asylum is an American independent film company and distributor that focuses on producing low-budget, direct-to-video films. The company has produced titles that capitalize on productions by major studios, often using 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. Its titles are distributed by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, GT Media, and as of 2015, Cinedigm. They are perhaps best known for creating the Sharknado franchise. As of 2009/2010, The Asylum have never made any losses from their film productions.
The Asylum was founded by director David Michael Latt and former Village Roadshow executives David Rimawi and Sherri Strain in 1997. 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. 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.
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. 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." 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.
Lawsuits & Legal Issues
Similarly in May 2012, Universal Pictures filed a lawsuit against The Asylum for their film American Battleship, claiming infringement on their movie, Battleship. As a result, The Asylum changed their title to American Warships.
In 2013 Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and The Hobbit producer Saul Zaentz commenced legal action against The Asylum for their film Age of the Hobbits (later called Lord of the Elves), 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. The lawsuit resulted in a temporary restraining order preventing The Asylum from releasing the film on its scheduled release date.
Deal with Cinedigm Corp
The Asylum has been producing Z Nation for the Syfy Network since late 2014. The show about a group that attempts to get the only known person with immunity to a zombie virus from New York to the last operating lab in California. According to show-runner Karl Shaefer, the show is intended to bring "a sense of hope to the horror of the apocalypse." Ratings for Z Nation have been unexpectedly high, about 1.6 million per episode, and has been renewed for a third season.
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. The company's productions have been called B movies and "mockbusters". Latt prefers the term "tie-ins" to "mockbusters", stating that The Asylum's productions, even those that capitalize on major releases, contain original stories. Latt states that the company plans its productions around the word of mouth of the financial prospects of upcoming films. The Asylum's films are usually released on video shortly before the theatrical release of a major studio film with similar themes or storylines.
The Asylum has also produced films with strong religious themes. 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. As a result, the company consulted priests and rabbis in order to incorporate faith-based elements. The division Faith Films was created in order to distribute titles with such themes. 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.
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. 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."
Some of the films which may not be apparently connected by title, share traits which place them in the same universe:
- Sharknado's universe includes Lavalantula, which featured two of its characters. These films are prequels to Z Nation as "Roberta Warren" (actress Kellita Smith) is credited as a Sergeant in Sharknado 3 and a Lieutenant in Z Nation.
- 2005's Dead Men Walking introduces Blackthorn Industries, which reappears in 2006's Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers.
|Year||Title||Director||Notes||Mockbuster of / Based on|
|1999||Bellyfruit||Kerri Green||The Asylum's first feature film.||N/A|
|2001||Fourplay||Mike Binder||Also known as Londinium|
|2003||Scarecrow Slayer||David Michael Latt||Sequel to Scarecrow.|
|2004||Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill||Byron Werner|
|Vampires vs. Zombies||Vince D'Amato||Also known as Carmilla, the Lesbian Vampire|
|2005||The Beast of Bray Road|
|Alien Abduction||Eric Forsberg||Possibly a prequel to Asylum's War of the Worlds.|
|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|
|Dead Men Walking||Pete Mervis||N/A|
|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||Followed by 666: The Beast||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||Based on the September 11, 2001 attacks||United 93 and World Trade Center|
|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 Eberhart||Sequel to 666: The Child|
|Freakshow||Drew Bell||Remake of the 1932 film Freaks|
|I Am Omega||Griff Furst||I Am Legend|
|2008||100 Million BC||10,000 BC|
|2012: Doomsday||Nick Eberhart||Followed by 2012: Ice Age in 2011 and 2012: Supernova in 2009||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|
|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 (2008 film)|
|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||The first release of the Mega Shark saga.||N/A|
|#1 Cheerleader Camp||Mark Quod||Fired Up!|
|18-Year-Old Virgin||Tamara Olson||N/A|
|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||Sequel to 2012: Doomsday.||2012|
|Paranormal Entity||Shane Van Dyke||Followed by 8213: Gacy House, Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes, and 100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck||Paranormal Activity|
|2010||6 Guns||Jonah Hex and True Grit (2010 film)|
|The 7 Adventures of Sinbad||Adam Silver
|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||Featuring characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle.||Sherlock Holmes|
|Moby Dick||Trey Stokes||Also known as 2010: Moby Dick or Moby Dick: 2010; setting update of Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick.|
|Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus||Christopher Ray||Sequel to Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus.|
|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||Setting update of The Three Musketeers.||The Three Musketeers|
|200 mph||Fast Five|
|2012: Ice Age||Travis Fort||Sequel to 2012: Doomsday and 2012: Supernova; part of the 2012 film series||N/A|
|Barely Legal||Jose Montesinos|
|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||N/A|
|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|
|The Haunting of Whaley House||Jose Prendes|
|2013||100 Degrees below Zero||R. D. Braunstein|
|Celebrity Sex Tape||Scott Wheeler|
|13/13/13||James C. Bressack|
|500 Mph Storm||Daniel Lusko|
|AE: Apocalypse Earth||Thunder Levin||After Earth and Oblivion|
|Alone for Christmas||Joe Lawson||Plot has similarities to Home Alone, done with anthropomorphic animals.||N/A|
|Atlantic Rim||Jared Cohn||Also known as Attack From Beneath.||Pacific Rim|
|Hansel & Gretel||Anthony C. Ferrante||Followed by 2015 film Hansel vs. Gretel||Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters|
|Sharknado||The first installment in the Sharknado film series.||N/A|
|Jack the Giant Killer||Mark Atkins||Jack the Giant Slayer|
|Mother||Mark Quod||Also released as Social Nightmare.||N/A|
|Age of Dinosaurs||Joseph Lawson||N/A|
|2014||Age of Tomorrow||James Kondelik||Edge of Tomorrow|
|Airplane vs. Volcano||N/A|
|Android Cop||Mark Atkins||RoboCop|
|Apocalypse Pompeii||Ben Demaree||Pompeii|
|Asian School Girls||Lawrence Silverstein||N/A|
|Asteroid vs. Earth||Christopher Ray|
|Mercenaries||Christopher Douglas Olen Ray||The Expendables 3|
|Bermuda Tentacles||Nick Lyon||N/A|
|Hercules Reborn||Hercules and The Legend of Hercules|
|Jailbait||Jared Cohn||Orange Is the New Black|
|Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark||Emile Edwin Smith||Sequel to Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus.||N/A|
|Sharknado 2: The Second One||Anthony C. Ferrante|
|Sleeping Beauty||Casper Van Dien||Maleficent|
|Blood Lake||James Cullen Bressack||N/A|
|Ardennes Fury||Joseph J. Lawson||Fury|
|Z Nation||Craig Engler and Karl Schaefer||The Asylum's first television series on Syfy.||The Walking Dead|
|2015||Avengers Grimm||Jeremy M. Inman||Avengers: Age of Ultron and Once Upon a Time|
|Bound||Jared Cohn||Fifty Shades of Grey|
|Mega Shark Versus Kolossus||Christopher Ray||Sequel to Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark||N/A|
|Hansel vs Gretel||Ben Demaree||Sequel to The Asylum's Hansel & Gretel||N/A|
|Road Wars||Mark Atkins||Mad Max: Fury Road|
|San Andreas Quake||John Baumgartner||San Andreas|
|Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!||Anthony C. Ferrante||N/A|
|Flight World War II||Emile Edwin Smith|
|3-Headed Shark Attack||Christopher Ray||Sequel to 2-Headed Shark Attack.|
|Martian Land||Scott Wheeler||The Martian|
|Sharknado: The 4th Awakens||N/A|
|Izzie's Way Home||The Asylum's first animated film.||Finding Dory|
|In the Name of Ben-Hur||Nick Lyon||Ben-Hur|
|Independents' Day||Laura Beth Love||Independence Day: Resurgence|
|Little Dead Rotting Hood||Jared Cohn||Little Red Riding Hood|
|Sinister Squad||Jeremy M. Inman||Suicide Squad|
|Ghosthunters||Pearry Reginald Teo||Ghostbusters|
|Dead 7||Danny Roew||The Magnificent Seven|
|Planet of the Sharks||Mark Atkins||Planet of the Apes|
|2017||Jurassic School||Mark Atkins||N/A|
|Ice Sharks||Emile Edwin Smith||N/A|
|King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table||Jared Cohn||Setting update of the Arthurian cycle.||King Arthur: Legend of the Sword|
|Sharknado 5: Global Swarming||Anthony C. Ferrante||N/A|
|If Looks Could Kill||N/A|
|The Fast and the Fierce||Ron Thornton||The Fate of the Furious|
|5-Headed Shark Attack||Christopher Ray||Sequel to 3-Headed Shark Attack||N/A|
|Empire of the Sharks||Sequel to Planet of the Sharks||N/A|
|Alien Convergence||Rob Pallatina||Alien: Covenant|
|Operation Dunkirk||Nick Lyon||Dunkirk|
|Troy The Odyssey||Tekin Girgin||N/A|
|Mercenaries 2||Christopher Ray||N/A|
|Atlantic Rim 2||Pacific Rim: Uprising|
- Katz, David. "From Asylum, the People Who Brought You (a Movie Kinda Sorta Like) Pacific Rim". GQ. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
- Potts, Rolf (October 7, 2007). "The New B Movie". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
- Borrelli, Christopher (July 3, 2009). "Bizarro Blockbusters". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
- "Movie 'Mockbusters' Put Snakes on Trains". National Public Radio. December 8, 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
- Solomon, Dan (August 23, 2011). "How to Make a Mockbuster (In Five Easy Steps)". Adult Swim. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- Somma, Brandon (2013-01-04). "Masters of the Mockbuster:What The Asylum Is All About". The Artifice. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- Latt, David. "" 'Interview, 'Front Row', BBC Radio 4', July 16, 2010.
- Patterson, John. "Seeking Asylum: the rise of Hollywood's Z-movies" The Guardian, July 30, 2009.
- "Fox takes action against 'Day the Earth Stopped' ". The Hollywood Reporter. November 11, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
- "Someone Finally Decides to Sue The Asylum: Universal Not Happy About Battleship Knock-Off". Internet Movie Database.
- "The Hobbit producers sue 'mockbuster' film company". BBC. 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
- Fritz, Ben (December 10, 2012). "'Hobbit' knockoff release blocked by judge". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
- Barton, Steve (December 10, 2012). "Cinedigm Checks into The Asylum". Dread Central. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
- "Cinedigm Signs 12-Picture Deal With The Asylum". Cinedigm. December 10, 2012. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
- Venable, Nick (2014-04-07). "The Asylum's Zombie Series Z Nation Scares Up 13-Episode Order From Syfy". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2014-10-13.
- Hibberd, James (2014-09-15). "'Z Nation' ratings tie 'Walking Dead' (if you move the decimal point)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2014-10-13.
- Surette, Tim (2014-10-21). "Syfy Renews Z Nation for Season 2 Because Z Nation Has Zombies in It". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
- McLendon, Gary (September 16, 2008). "Henrietta actor has had varied life". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. Accessed September 27, 2008.
- "The Asylum | ATLANTIC RIM aka ATTACK FROM BENEATH". www.theasylum.cc. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
- "Fairy Tale Heroines Assemble for The Asylum's Avengers Grimm". Dread Central. 2014-12-23. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
- Amid Amidi (January 23, 2016). "The ‘Sharknado’ Studio Has Found A Way To Cash In On ‘Finding Dory’".