The Asylum

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The Asylum
TypeFilm
TV DVD Distribution
Founded1997
Founder(s)David Michael Latt
David Rimawi
Sherri Strain
HeadquartersBurbank, California[1], United States
Owner(s)Privately held
DivisionsFaith Films
Websitewww.TheAsylum.cc
 
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The Asylum
TypeFilm
TV DVD Distribution
Founded1997
Founder(s)David Michael Latt
David Rimawi
Sherri Strain
HeadquartersBurbank, California[1], United States
Owner(s)Privately held
DivisionsFaith Films
Websitewww.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]

YearTitleDirectorNotesMockbuster of
1999BellyfruitKerri GreenThe Asylum's first feature film.N/A
2001FourplayMike BinderAlso known as Londinium.N/A
2004Vampires vs. ZombiesVince D'AmatoFreddy vs. Jason
2005H. G. Wells' War of the WorldsDavid Michael LattAlso 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 WorldLeigh ScottKing Kong
2006Snakes on a TrainPeter MervisDirected by Mervis under the pseudonym "The Mallachi Brothers"Snakes on a Plane
The Da Vinci TreasureThe Da Vinci Code
When a Killer CallsWhen a Stranger Calls
666: The ChildJack PerezThe Omen
Halloween NightMark AtkinsN/A
Pirates of Treasure IslandLeigh ScottPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Hillside CannibalsThe Hills Have Eyes
The 9/11 Commission ReportUnited 93 and World Trade Center
DragonEragon
2007TransmorphersTransformers
The HitchhikerThe Hitcher
AVH: Alien vs. HunterScott HarperAliens vs. Predator: Requiem
The ApocalypseJustin JonesN/A
Invasion of the Pod PeopleThe Invasion
30,000 Leagues Under the SeaGabriel BolognaSetting update of the Jules Verne novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.N/A
I Am OmegaGriff FurstI Am Legend
2008100 Million BC10,000 BC
2012: DoomsdayNick EverhartDoomsday
Allan Quatermain and the Temple of SkullsMark AtkinsIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Death RacersRoy KnyrimDeath Race
Journey to the Center of the EarthScott Wheeler and David JonesJourney to the Center of the Earth
MonsterEric ForsbergCloverfield
Street RacerTeo KonuralpThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Sunday School MusicalRachel Lee GoldenbergThe Asylum's first family musical under Faith Films.High School Musical 3: Senior Year
The Day the Earth StoppedC. Thomas HowellThe Day the Earth Stood Still
War of the Worlds 2: The Next WaveSequel to H.G. Wells' War of the WorldsN/A
2009The Land That Time ForgotLand of the Lost
Mega Shark Versus Giant OctopusAce HannahN/A
18-Year-Old VirginTamara Olson
Sex PotEric Forsberg
Princess of MarsMark AtkinsRetitled The Martian Colony Wars in some European countries.Avatar
Haunting of Winchester HouseThe Haunting in Connecticut
The TerminatorsXavier PuslowskiTerminator Salvation
Transmorphers: Fall of ManScott WheelerTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen
2012: SupernovaAnthony Fankhauser2012
Paranormal EntityShane Van DykeParanormal Activity
20106 GunsJonah Hex
Titanic IIN/A
The 7 Adventures of SinbadAdam Silver
Ben Hayflick
Title changed from The 7 Voyages of Sinbad due to legal issues.Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
8213: Gacy HouseAnthony FankhauserAlso known as Paranormal Entity 2: Gacy House.Paranormal Activity 2
Mega PiranhaEric ForsbergPiranha 3D
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock HolmesRachel Lee GoldenbergSherlock Holmes
MILFScott WheelerN/A
Moby DickTrey StokesAlso known as 2010: Moby Dick or Moby Dick: 2010. Setting update of Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick.N/A
Mega Shark Versus CrocosaurusChristopher RayN/A
2011Almighty ThorThor
Anneliese: The Exorcist TapesJude Gerard PrestAlso known as Paranormal Entity 3: The Exorcist Tapes.Paranormal Activity 3
Battle of Los AngelesMark AtkinsBattle: Los Angeles
3 MusketeersCole McKayThe Three Musketeers
200 mphFast Five
11/11/11Keith Allen11-11-11
Barely LegalJose MontesinosN/A
The Amityville HauntingGeorge Meed
Zombie ApocalypseNick Lyon
Mega Python vs. GatoroidMary Lambert
Princess and the PonyRachel Lee GoldenbergThe Asylum's first family film not marketed under Faith Films.
2012Grimm's Snow WhiteSnow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror
2-Headed Shark AttackChristopher Ray
Bikini Spring BreakJared CohnSpring Breakers
Hold Your BreathN/A
Abraham Lincoln vs. ZombiesRichard SchenkmanAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Alien OriginMark AtkinsPrometheus
100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard SpeckMartin AndersonAlso known as Paranormal Entity 4: The Awakening.Paranormal Activity 4
American WarshipsThunder LevinTitle changed from American Battleship due to legal issues.Battleship
Clash of the EmpiresJoseph LawsonTitle 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 EarthRetitled Bloodstorm in the UK.Iron Sky
Rise of the ZombiesNick LyonN/A
2013500 mph StormDaniel LuskoN/A
AE: Apocalypse EarthThunder LevinAfter Earth and Oblivion
Alone for ChristmasJoe LawsonPlot has similarities with Home Alone, only with animals.N/A
AttilaEmmanuel ItierN/A
Atlantic Rim[1]Jared CohnPacific Rim
Hansel & GretelAnthony FerranteHansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
SharknadoN/A
Jack the Giant KillerMark AtkinsJack the Giant Slayer
MotherMark QuodAlso released as Social Nightmare.N/A
2014Android CopMark AtkinsRoboCop
Apocalypse PompeiiBen DemareePompeii
Mega Shark Versus Mecha SharkEmile Edwin SmithN/A
Sharknado 2 - The Second OneN/A

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]