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Direct-To-DVD prequels next big Hollywood trend?

Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 4:40 PM Central

by John Couture

We all know about Direct-To-DVD (DTD) movies, previously known as Direct-To-Video (DTV). They are usually low-budget sequels to big box office hits. You can thank American Pie and it's numerous DTD slices such as Band Camp, Naked Mile and Beta House for that.

Each year, a new American Pie DTD release is as clockwork as paying taxes, another Saw sequel or George Lucas ruining yet another beloved trilogy from my youth. But, there's a new sinister scheme at work in Hollywood and much like DTD sequels, it's just another take on a proven winner.

Do you know who Bruce and Lloyd are?

You might if you decide to take in Steve Carell big screen TV series adaptation Get Smart on June 20th. They are two supporting characters from Get Smart played by Masi Oka and Nate Torrence.

Warner Bros. is banking that you will leave the theater in late June wanting more Bruce and Lloyd, so they are bringing a DTD prequel out called Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd: Out of Control. It's so top secret, I can't even tell you the date it will be on DVD until Get Smart hits theaters. But suffice it to say, you will be enjoying Bruce and Lloyd on DVD long before Get Smart.

Call it a test run for one of Warner's biggest pre-Summer movies next year. Today's New York Times unveiled a risky DTD prequel strategy for Watchmen, the much-anticipated adaptation of the Alan Moore graphic novel of the same name.

On March 10, 2009, a mere four days after the release of Watchmen in megaplexes nationwide, Warner Bros. will release Tales of the Black Freighter on DVD. Black Freighter is a companion piece to the Watchmen movie and in the original graphic novel, it's the name of a comic book that one of the characters reads. The movie, which will be animated, also includes a documentary called "Under the Hood" that will provide background information on the characters in Watchmen. "Under the Hood" is an autobiography written by one of the main characters in the graphic novel that highlights his glory days.

It's surely a risky strategy that could pay off in spades for Warner Bros. The optimum scenario would see both Tales of the Black Freighter and Watchmen working in tandem to increase the business of the other. It also opens the door for a potential mega DVD release at some point of both of the movies in one deluxe package.

Watchmen has quite the rabid fan base and if this strategy is pulled off, Warner Bros. should reap the rewards. But, if the quality is off or the end result suffers in some way, you can expect fanboy revolts the likes of which we haven't seen since the days of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Suffice it to say, Warner Bros. will be keeping a sharp eye on their little Bruce and Lloyd experiment this Summer. If they pull it off, DTD prequels could become the norm in Hollywood.