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Is “Direct-to-DVD” a Dirty Word?

Are Movies With Theatrical Releases “Better”?

I follow a lot of movie sites, and most of them have a focus on theatrical releases as well as back catalog favorites. But there is an entirely different market out there consisting of movies that skip the theatrical release and go straight to home video through services like Amazon and Redbox. When talking about these home video releases, many people think of things like Asylum films and their low budget mockbusters made to capitalize on the projected success of many of the Hollywood summer blockbusters. But there are plenty of other categories of “direct-to-blu” videos that aren’t so cut and dry. There are a great many DC and Marvel animated films that have come out in the past several years, and while the run time and budget speak to a home video release, the acting and story are often just as strong as any theatrically released animated movie.

DVD TrashSo what are your thoughts, do you see a movie that never got a theatrical release and immediately think that it’s worse off because it didn’t “make the cut”? Or do you do the research, look up an online trailer, try to find a review, and judge it on its own merits. Obviously, I watch quite a few direct-to-home-video releases and there are quite a few that I find very enjoyable. Have you discovered a home video release that surprised you? Or do you still attach a stigma to those movies that couldn’t make it into theaters? Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

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About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 300 superhero and comic book movies in the past four years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on June 5, 2013, in Blogs and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. ” There are a great many DC and Marvel animated films that have come out in the past several years, and while the run time and budget speak to a home video release, the acting and story are often just as strong as any theatrically released animated movie.”

    Hear, hear. In fact, you had an instance where a direct to disc animated movie exceeded the theatrically released live-action movie equivalent. Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) ran rings around the much hyped 2011 Green Lantern film as an origin story. Hell, if the studios faithfully translated to the big screen the direct-to-video Wonder Woman, Justice League: The New Frontier, Doom, or Crisis on Two Earths they’d have box office winners, in my opinion. But, we know that won’t happen ;-).

    • A long while back I wrote a blog suggesting that DC Animation should give one of their animated movies a real theatrical release. If IMDB is correct, even if they double the budget, they’re under 10 million and if they can’t make that in theaters, there’s something wrong. Any thoughts on movies outside of those specific types of titles?

      • There have been d-to-v titles I’ve enjoyed, but they seem to be far too spread out among what’s out there. ‘Blood and Bone’ being one of those that stood out for kickass action and story. I enjoyed, ‘Frozen’, ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’, and especially one meant as a theatrical release but got tripped up: ‘Trick ‘r Treat’.

  2. I daresay that D2Discs are generally weaker (superhero movies or not); but then there are Doom and Justice League: The New Frontier. These are the sort of movies that you’re happy to see alone in your home.

  3. There are some good ones out there, certainly. But for the most part… I’m going to have to say yes, “direct-to-video” is a bad word. I just did a quick run through of my ratings on my site, and I’ve never given 5 stars to a film that was direct-to-video (or made for TV, barring specials). And doing a quick tally, the lower grades (1 and 2 stars) outweigh the 3 and 4 star grades… considering that overall, my 5 star ratings are nearly as numerous as the 1 and 2 stars combined, and it definitely paints a picture where the DTV films are skewed lower than theatrical releases.

    • It’s just a lot harder to find the good ones because there are so many bad ones, and the bad home video movies are so much worse than the bad theatrical releases.

      • Yup. There’s also the “trickle down” effect in play. Any time a studio makes a film, and then decides it’s not good enough to spend money on a theatrical campaign, they still want to recoup what costs they can. So the worst would-have-been-theatrical films become direct-to-video.

  4. Most of the stuff I watch is straight to home video. Most of it is terrible, but makes it worthwhile when you find something good 🙂

  5. It’s a “bad word” for sure. Not to me, of course… I’ll watch anything pretty much. But you just have to go in with different expectations. In low-budget films it’s more about how well they spent the budget or made it so well that you don’t notice the lack of budget. Peter Jackson’s early films are a great example (although not direct-to-video) of films with small budgets that look like they cost a lot more.

    I’ve been reviewing my way through the Full Moon catalog and all of their films since about 1990 have been direct to video, and they have some true gems. Others would definitely disagree on that, but such is the direct-to-video term. Most people won’t touch the stuff, but there’s definitely worthwhile stuff out there. You just have to be more willing to risk your evening on something being bad or not what the box promises.

    • Knowing that a movie is direct-to-video really does temper your expectations, and I’ve seen a fair share of stinkers along with the rare gem. I do have my doubts when it comes to d-to-v titles, but I’m occasionally willing to give them a shot, aside from the superhero titles that I plan on watching sooner or later no matter what the quality or budget.

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