Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What We've Been Working Toward...


Warner Home Video is getting into the production business.

Small-screen vets Tony Krantz ("24") and John Shiban ("The X-Files") are teaming with "Blair Witch Project" co-creator Daniel Myrick to form genre shingle Raw Feed.

Venture will create low-budget features to be fully financed by WHV, with the ultimate goal to create its first branded film series that will bypass theatrical and go directly to DVD.

Raw Feed marks the first time WHV has gone beyond the distribution of library product. First pic in the series is "Rest Stop," a thriller about a young couple terrorized while on a cross-country trip. The film was written and will be directed by Shiban, who is currently co-exec producer of the WB series "Supernatural."

This will be followed with films directed by Krantz, the former CEO and co-chairman of Imagine Television and exec producer of "24," and Myrick, who is also a partner in Haxan Films.
The open-ended deal with WHV encompasses horror pics, sci-fiers and thrillers. If a film emerges with the commercial promise of an "Open Water" or "Blair Witch Project," a theatrical release is possible.

But WHV has promised financing of budgets of about $5 million, plus a marketing launch, because it gives the distributor an opportunity to connect its product with a core genre audwithout the huge P&A outlays that are part of every theatrical release.

Both WHV and the trio see Raw Feed as a litmus test of whether a pricey theatrical launch is a prerequisite for DVD viability, or whether a strong product and marketing can eliminate that step.

"The visceral reaction is that if you can't cut it theatrically, you put it right out on video," said Jeff Baker, WHV's senior veep and general manager for theatrical catalog, who put the venture together with the trio's agents at Endeavor Independent. "But we see an opportunity to overcome the benefit of prior consumer awareness by utilizing publicity and viral marketing on the Internet to reach a core audience."

Rated and unrated versions of the film will be released.

"The creation of content is evolving beyond just the traditional unspooling of film in a theater," Krantz said. "There are opportunities in direct-to-video, mobile phones and the Internet to speak to markets starved for exciting concepts." Krantz said he and his partners are convinced WHV has the marketing clout to brand Raw Feed product and keep it from falling into the void as many DVD releases do.

"Doing three films quickly indicates they are serious about creating a long-term brand," Krantz said.

(Thanks go to Rock Shaink for sending me this)

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