Mockbusters vs. Blockbusters
If you’ve ever browsed the aisles at your local video store and stumbled upon a film you’ve never heard of that’s markedly similar in plot to a current theatrical blockbuster, chances are it was produced by a small film production company called The Asylum. The 10 year-old company started out making low budget horror films, but eventually dovetailed into making “mockbusters” after a perfectly timed straight-to-video “War of the Worlds” release prompted the Blockbuster video chain to purchase nearly 8 times as many copies of that release as it did of their standard low budget horror flicks. And thus, a new business was born.
“We’re a studio making product,” David Michael Latt, one of The Asylum’s co-founders, told Cinematical. “We do copycats as much as the big guys do. They just rape from within their own library (remakes, re-dos, re-issues, re-mastered). All of our shows are original, and some have studio ties. It doesn’t make them misfits, or ugly, or bad, or schlocky, or crap.”
The films, which aren’t parodies in the same way “Weird Al” Yankovic’s songs are, but rather well-timed tie-ins hoping to capitalize on peaking public interest in a genre. “I’m not trying to dupe anybody,” he told the New York Times. “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.’”
Take a look at some of The Asylum’s notable mockbusters below — nestled beside the blockbuster they’re attempting to piggyback off of. And if you think you’ve got what it takes to write one of these suckers, rumor has it they take unsolicited material.
Alien vs. Hunter vs. Alien vs. Predator
This one is so well executed, it’s hard to tell which one is the theatrical flick and which one is the straight-to-DVD job.
Dragon vs Eragon
Change the “E” to a “D,” use a similar font on the poster, and the mockbuster becomes available at Blockbuster the same week the blockbuster is out in theaters.
DaVinci Treasure vs. DaVinci Code
No mysteries here — in one you can see Thomas Hanks, the other has C. Thomas Howell.
King of the Lost World vs. King Kong
Whether blockbuster or mockbuster, people go ape for giant gorilla flicks.
Halloween Night vs. Halloween
Not to be out done, the straight-to-DVD mockbuster also comes in an unrated director’s edition.
Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers vs. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Exorcism in big font + a girl’s name in smaller font = the battle of these two horror flicks.
Transmorphers vs. Transformers
We wonder if The Asylum was able to transmorph the rentals of their straight-to-DVD robot flick into big profits.
When a Killer Calls vs. When a Stranger Calls
Illustrated poster? Check. Female lead talking on a cell phone? Check. Female lead on her cell phone being cut off by the left edge of the poster while something ominous lurks behind her? Checkmate.
Monster vs. Cloverfield
Hand-held cameras document disasters worsened by monsters.
I Am Omega vs. I Am Legend
Tagline for the mockbuster: “The last man alive must battle a planet of the dead.” Tagline for the blockbuster: “The last man on Earth is not alone.” Tagline for both posters: WRITTEN IN A SIMILAR FONT IN ALL CAPS.
Pirates of Treasure Island vs. Pirates of the Caribbean
Three words: Skulls and scrolls.
Snakes on a Train vs. Snakes on a Plane
We applaud the moxie of a mockbuster that can disregarding the already slathered in irony original and make a film equally as ridiculously scripted.