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The Asylum Film Studio

The Asylum is a film studio company that built a reputation for blatantly knocking-off popular films by making low-budget, direct-to-video films that possess similar variations of titles and plots/themes as their maintstream counterparts, and piggybacking the marketing strategies of the same.

One current example is The Asylum‘s “I Am Omega“, which is a cross-bred of the upcoming “I Am Legend” and the 1971 “Omega Man” (which is the previous film based on Richard Matheson’s novel). And it was The Asylum‘s marketing scheme to release the film about the same time frame as Will Smith’s starring adaptation was how I had discovered I Am Omega. Although I had never watched the film, being familiar with Matheson’s book and the previous film adaptations, I quickly was drawn interests when I noticed the title on Netflix with a WTF? reaction. This caught my attention to look into what type of films The Asylum produced. There’s something clever about this marketing ploy.

To name a few other example titles from The Asylum includes:

  • Hillside Cannibals
  • The Da Vinci Treasure
  • 666: The Child
  • Pirates of Treasure Island
  • Snakes on a Train
  • Transmorphers

I’m sure you recognize their similarities to other more popular film titles that are out there. If you don’t… well, this is why I think what they do (although I find somewhat devious) is ingenious. “[A] consumer advocate noted that, while it is very misleading and unfair to customers, it is perfectly legal and, from a business standpoint, very clever. Customers at the video store expressed bewilderment, as one who picked up a copy of Pirates of Treasure Island was prompted to ask, “Is Johnny Depp even in this?”
Source: Wikipedia

The Asylum, along with their knock-off movies, also produce promotional products of their films that also mimic the posters in contrasts to the more “commercial” Hollywood productions. See their “Alien Vs. Hunter” as a great example of an obvious similie of “Alien Vs. Predator” or AVP (The Asylum’s version is titled AVH). Because of a strong curiousity, I can’t resists watching their trailers just to get a glimpse on how low-budget they are getting away with the effects, acting, and storylines, which are pretty violent, and even contain some uncensored nudity. *smiling* So there is no hidden agenda to whom their target audience members are – not only the people who hunger for more exploited derivatives of popular Hollywood titles, but impressionable consumers who pick-up on memes of titles and taglines.

Founded in 1997 by partners David Michael Latt, David Rimawi and Sherri Strain, The Asylum don’t deny their films are blatant copycats. But they don’t consider themselves rip-offs either; the films are “mockbusters” is the term they used, where they produce their own story twists of the same films. And in The Asylum‘s defense, they have produced more than 200 films, and only a small portion of their production line are these “knock-offs”. But… even still, you can’t help but notice the “knock-offs” moreso than their original films… and no doubt it is these “mockbusters” are the bread and butter of the film studio. Again, they don’t deny that. “Latt contended that he is running a business and is merely trying to get the largest audience possible to see his films”. Source: Ibid.

I have never watched a single movie produced by The Asylum. I was always more of a Troma guy myself, or even watched an occassional Full Moon flick, as their films are original creations (well, somewhat original, ’cause one can argue that all films are inspired by previous incarnations of storytelling). But, I admit, every time The Asylum releases a movie, and I come across one of their ads – I do a double-take and say,”Hey, I thought this movie wasn’t in theatres yet…”

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