Well, it’s not enough that comic book movies have saved the box office, now they are saving the DVD business, which fell 3.2% last year to a mere $15.9 billion. How? Well, using Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, of course. According to the NY Times, Warner is trying a bold new tactic in conjunction with the release of the WATCHMEN movie next year: a concurrent release of the animated TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER as a direct-to-dvd movie.
The second film, tentatively called “Tales of the Black Freighter,” follows a side “Watchmen” storyline about a shipwreck and will arrive in stores five days after the main movie rolls out in theaters. The DVD will also include a documentary-style film called “Under the Hood” that will delve into the characters’ backstories.
Warner, the No. 1 distributor of DVDs, bills the effort as a way to renew retail excitement for little silver discs now that the once-booming market has matured.
The move is an investment in creating excitement for WATCHMEN, which is already a risky business as an R-rated, mature-themed superhero movie.
The immediate goal is for the parallel release to help start a potential new movie franchise. As television advertising becomes less effective because of declining TV viewership, movie studios need to reach a mass audience somehow, and having what amounts to ads sitting on store shelves is seen as a crucial antidote.
The effort is also a way for Warner to get more DVD bang for not many more bucks. The “Watchmen” film, Mr. Synder said, will probably generate at least three DVDs: “Tales of the Black Freighter,” followed about four months later by release of “Watchmen” itself, and then an “ultimate” edition in which the two are edited together into one megamovie.
You don’t say. Warner also plans to create a dozen 22- to 26-minute Webisodes of “The Watchmen Motion Comic” to help make the story more palatable to non-Watchmen initiates. This series, which will eventually be collected into DVD, will be “a panel-by-panel slide show of the graphic novel narrated by an actor.” So that’s at least FOUR dvds that we will have to buy then. Let’s hope Warner does a better job of marketing this movie than they did SPEED RACER!
Setting aside how positively thrilled Alan Moore must be over all this, we’re thrilled because dear, dear Gerard Butler is going to take time out from his busy schedule of being linked to Hollywood starlets to provide the main voice for Black Freighter! Win-win!