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Top Ten Should Have Been: Direct-to-DVD Releases

Direct to DVD films for 2013

Another year come and gone, this time with my online work ethic fading worse than a black shirt in a pail full of bleach. However, I have been watching like some sort of Direct to DVD Santa and have found the gift of box office disappointments to put forth a yearly list just in time for the internet to have a metric ton of “of 2013” lists.

You’re welcome.

Sadly, this year does not include a sequel of “Atlas Shrugged” film because the producer of the “Don’t help moochers” moraled story needed to take the time to gather funds for on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/atlasshrugged/atlas-shrugged-movie-who-is-john-galt).

Think about that.

But enough paragraphs followed by sarcastic one line follow-ups. I feel I should mention this is not a “Worst of” list. If the budget of a film is over $100 million, it cannot, in any possible way, be on this list because a theatrical run is probably your only chance.The quality of the films have little to do with their selection, although it may be a factor in why they qualified. This is a put about list focusing on box office performance to budget (with a release in a minimum of 1000 theaters) considering how much could have been saved if the studio had simply shrugged and said “Screw it, shove it in a Redbox.” This year we have a Top Ten and an honorable mention. Hope you enjoy because it’s the most relevant internet usage I’ve put forth in the last twelve months.
Box office amounts are Worldwide totals.

Honorable Mention: The Last Exorcism Part II
Budget: $5 million      Box Office: $15,179,302

A sequel to a found footage film that isn’t film footage, The Last Exorcism Part II was a disliked attempt to coast to easy profits.

While it did achieve mild success, the film cost nearly three times as much as the original but brought in less than a forth of the original’s box office gross ($67,738,090). It’s not officially on the list, but I still feel it would’ve been just as good going Direct to DVD “A Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia” style.

To throw in even more numbers, Part II was released in 2700 theaters compared to the Part I’s 2874 which means they had equal footing in those regards. I guess my justification is that despite profitability, the extended costs of advertising and theatrical release most likely rendered Part II’s success a moot point.

10. Battle of the Year
Budget: $20 million     Box Office: $15,624,421

What happens when you turn a documentary about competitive dancing into a dramatic movie about competitive dancing?

No one really cares that much, apparently.

With the dance genre beginning to fade, it seems like Battle of the Year would’ve been better off relying on foreign countries (because some still really enjoy Step Up style films) and just sliding the flick direct to DVD for America.

9. Machete Kills
Budget: $20 million    Box Office: $15,008,161

Danny Trejo got to be a leading man for a major motion picture at least twice. That’s a win to remember. However, the aptly named sequel felt hyped but floundered on release amid a wave of bad reviews.

It deserves more. It just does. The crazy, Grindhouse style film would be a good fit for a direct to DVD release (it’s not as if dozens of movies aren’t slapping Danny Trejo on their front cover despite him only being featured for a few minutes at most) that would allow it circulate.

So, Robert Rodriguez, don’t be discouraged. Just…just blackmail someone and get Machete Kills Again…In Space made. I’d suggest Direct to DVD, but have no qualms about seeing in on the big screen. I just figure if another sequel does go to theaters, it will soon be heading to that year’s Top Ten Should Have Been list.

8. Tyler Perry Presents Peeples
Budget: 15 Million      Box Office: $9,307,065

What do you call a movie that has Tyler Perry’s name plastered on it, released in over 2000 theaters, and is found to be an overall disappointment in both quality and profit?

Alex Cross, but that’s not the point.

Peeples is a by-the-numbers comedy (with that wonderful Tyler Perry given ‘message’) that came and went without much fanfare. Although, being up against Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby and Pain & Gain probably did not help. Considering the metric ton of work that has went direct to DVD hyping Tyler Perry’s presentation as a selling point leads me to believe this film could have easily slid into one of those slots. In the end, this will probably be a detriment to Craig Robinson becoming a comedy leading man, which is a bummer to certain people writing this article.


7. Broken City
Budget: $35 million     Box Office: $ 19,701,164

Mark Wahlberg could have prevented 9/11 (just ask him) but he couldn’t make Broken City a profitable theatrical release, even with Russell Crowe as the film’s villain. The Noir-lite film came and went, plopped into an early year spot hoping to grab some viewers hyped up for a new year of movie viewing.

Admittedly, January is usually a dumping ground for studios, but between the advertising budget and cost of putting the film in nearly 2500 theaters, it was essentially a coin flip between theaters and direct-to-DVD…and with me, it’s a double sided coin.

6. Getaway                                                                                                                                                                          Budget: 18 million      Box Office: $10,501,938

Quality doesn’t matter on this list…but this was not a good movie. The thriller hoping to cash-in on starring the non-bald guy from Breaking Bad and the balding guy who fathered Angelina Jolie along side that one really attractive girl (yeah, that one) puttered onto screens with very little hype. Soon after release, the word-of-mouth flattened the films tires and it failed to recoup its budget.

Considering only the amount of Cuba Gooding Jr related drama/action films that exists on Direct to DVD, Getaway could easily have moved into one of those spots to basically get to the point where it is now: On DVD/Blu Ray hoping to eek out a profit.

5. Dead Man Down
Budget: 30 million Gross: 18,074,539

WWE Studios presents this noir based crime thriller film starring Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard and directed by Niels Arden Oplev (director of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) which almost seems like it should work. Seriously. Those aren’t bad puzzle pieces. However, despite all the pro wrestling angles (such as pointing out how British bad guy Wade Barrett was in the film and it was going to make him a movie star) they failed to convince fans to go see it.

If not for the unexpected success of Halle Berry vehicle The Call there is a very possible probability that this film would have killed the WWE’s film division. Or, at the very least, driven it to pure Direct-to-DVD attempts…daggone it.

4. Black Nativity
Budget: 17.5 Million Box Office: $6,988,912

Based on the Langston Hughes poem of the same title, the religious musical Black Nativity failed to gain much foothold around the holiday season and plodded out to a near $7 million in box office returns despite being released in over 1500 theaters. Although, as of this writing, it is still in less than a hundred theaters so perhaps it will slightly break that number .

While it should eventually side into doing it, a DVD release coupled with the typical run on channels like Hallmark could have garnered just as much, if not more. In a full world of theoreticals, I’m saying it could have used a smaller theater release in order cut to the chase of DVD and sentimental movie channels.

3. Bullet to the Head
Budget: 55 Million Box Office: $9,489,829

I do not understand why Sylvester Stallone does not embrace the world of Direct-to-DVD films. The amount of work and profit Steven Seagal gets seems like it should send a message that it’s okay to drop a film direct to the at-home audience instead of trying to get people to leave their comfort zones for another generic action film featuring no gimmick other than “Uh, so this guy gets an axe. Axe fight, right?!” I mean, the main character is called Bobo. BOBO.

Anyway…save some cash, cut some corners, and hit the local Redbox instead of a multiplex for once…please

All I’m saying is Stallone has the Expendables yet the non-big name characters aren’t getting Direct-to-DVD spin-offs. I want a spin-off Randy Couture story following his character going home and find a Walking Tall situation. Terry Crews in a Christmas story protecting a family. Heck, Dolph Lundgren in an action comedy where he bungles and drinks his way into bodyguarding for some important figure. Just…something, man.

2. The Fifth Estate
Budget: $28 million Box Office: $6,054,931

And…there goes your Oscar chances. The Wikileaks story failed to gather the US audience to the theaters, dooming the film for award shows and Edward Snowden’s hope to get something resembling support from home. Or was that Bradley Manning? Wait,that’s Chelsea Manning now, right?

Crap. I’m such a typical American.

Either way, the film failed to find support and the ultimate story of speaking out failed to garner any word-of-mouth. They could have thrown it to DVD and hoped it went “underground” or something like that. #OccupyRedbox

1. Phantom
Budget: 18 million Box Office: $1,034,589
Released in over 1,000 theaters and only garnering slightly over half a million dollars in it’s opening weekend, Phantom was a clear-cut choice for the top spot. It suffered and 88% drop the next weekend, only bringing in an additional $61,050.

The movie stars Ed Harris and David Duchovny and follows a Soviet sub during the Cold War captained by a captain (I didn’t get a thesaurus for Christmas) who is having sickness based delusions that he hides from his crew.

I suppose there is the possibly that the advertising budget was spent on catering. In all, if “Send this to theater” money had been used for “Advertise a DVD” strategy, it may have performed better.

It couldn’t have been much worse.

And thus concludes this year’s list. Thank you for taking the time to read (and you’re welcome that I didn’t make every listing something you had to click to see) 

Until next time…Happy New Year.







All [Except for a brief Wikipedia visit for Machete Kills] numbers taken from “BoxOfficeMojo.com”

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