Movie Doppelgangers: B-Movie Ripoffs of Hollywood Blockbusters
Well, another $5 down the drain. The other night I stopped by Blockbuster to rent a copy of Battle: Los Angeles. Blockbuster is a bit of a ghost town these days, the sort of place that makes you think:
Huh, wonder what my first move would be if the undead attacked, right here, right now.
I was in a hurry and I kept imagining the clerk would morph into a zombie and I’d be forced to defend myself with stacks of $5 previously-owned titles from the bargain bin. So in my haste/nervousness I ended up grabbing a copy of what looked like Battle: Los Angeles, but was in fact Battle OF Los Angeles. Silly me.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been burned by a movie doppelgänger posing as a legitimate flick, and I watch movies all the time. Anybody with a Netflix Instant subscription knows there’s an entire sidepocket genre of crappy movies disguised to resemble the familiar blockbusters you know and love, whose only purpose is to, uh, resemble the familiar blockbusters you know and love. These mockbusters won’t fool horror buffs or sci-fi geeks, but clearly they fool somebody; at least one company has made a business of producing mockbusters and nothing else.
The Asylum was founded by former Village Roadshow executives David Rimawi, Sherri Strain, and director David Michael Latt in 1997. The company focused on producing straight-to-video low-budget films, usually in the horror genre, but were unable to find a market due to competition from major studios, such as Lions Gate Entertainment. In 2005, the company produced a low-budget adaptation of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, which was released in the same year as Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the same material. Blockbuster Inc. ordered 100,000 copies of The Asylum’s adaptation, a significantly larger order than any of the company’s previous releases, resulting in Latt and Rimawi reconsidering their business model.
In the years since the War of the Worlds debacle, The Asylum has been busy producing low-rent knockoffs of everything from High School Musical to the Da Vinci Code. Very, very busy. So busy I had to knock the cobwebs off my copy of Photoshop and make a poster juxtaposing each Hollywood blockbuster with its Asylum-produced mockbuster.
It’s a bit of a jumbled mess right now because I guess I’m not capable of thinking about Hollywood without snarling about the
scapegoating of P2P filesharing or the poisoning of the digital commons by groups like the MPAA, RIAA, and MPEG-LA. But I think you’ll be surprised at just how many of these little buggers there are in the world. (Mockbusters, not annoying industry consortiums with acronymous names. Well, both.)