Sunday, March 30, 2014

Direct to Video Sequels and the Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008, 2011, 2012) Series

There are many different ways for someone to make money off the release of a movie.  The main one, and the one that people pay the most attention to, is the theatrical release.  The movies are put into theaters where the public coalesces.  Individual tickets cost around ten dollars.  That’s a lot of money being made per head.  Another way to make money is through video-on-demand.  This is the main method for getting the people who want to see a movie from the comfort of home without using a physical medium.  Netflix, pay-per-view, hulu, Amazon Prime... These are the methods I’m talking about.  It’s a convenient way for someone to watch a movie and one that can make a good amount of money.  A third way is to sell the physical media.  By this, I mean DVDs, blu-rays, and other home video of that kind.  At this point, that’s mainly for collectors or people who refuse to adapt to a digital world.  These people can have a copy to hold in their hands.  They can show off their collection and make it look nice.  The last way I’m going to bring up here is cable and network licensing.  A channel like TNT can pay to have the rights to air a movie.  They hope that people who are flicking through the channels will stumble across the movie and be interested enough to watch it, thus boosting their ratings.

For the sake of this week’s post, I want to specifically focus on two of the methods: video-on-demand and physical media.  More specifically, I want to cover direct-to-video films.  Even more specifically, I want to get into the idea of direct-to-video sequels to theatrical films.  This is something that has come to light multiple times in the history of the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  The sequels to Death Race and The Marine were direct-to-video.  Dorm Daze 2 was direct-to-video.  Likewise, this week’s series of movies, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, includes two direct-to-video sequels to a theatrical film.

As with many of the topics I’ve written about for the Sunday “Bad” Movies, the direct-to-video sequels have a lot to do with money that the studios want to earn.  There are a few minor things that have to happen for the movies to go in this direction, however.  There needs to be a reason for the sequels to be direct-to-video instead of being released theatrically as the first film in the franchise was.  Let us start with the theatrical success of the film.  In order to get a sequel at all, a movie needs to be financially successful.  It needs to make back the amount that it cost to make the movie, and it needs to exceed that to get a profit.  Whether or not the movie gets a sequel depends upon how high the profit is.  A lower budget film does not need to make as much money to be considered a success as a bigger budget movie.  The bigger the profit, the more likely that a theatrical sequel will be made.  The smaller the profit, the less likely.  But there is a middle ground.

Somewhere in between the amount of profit that makes a theatrical sequel happen and makes nothing at all happen, there’s a percentage that makes the producers hopeful.  With a few tweaks, there could be a way to make a lot of money off of franchising the movie.  That is where direct-to-video comes into play.  One of the main reasons that direct-to-video sequels exist is to make more money from a marginally financially successful film.  There are two big reasons.  One is that it did well on home video and the studio decides that using home video would be the way to make successful sequels.  The other reason is that direct-to-video films are usually cheaper to make because they won’t be theatrical.  The smaller budget might not make it good enough to go theatrical, but it could still make money through sales and rentals on home video and video on demand.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua was a major success in theaters.  It was number one in the domestic box office for two weeks in a row, and earned $145 million worldwide on a $12 million budget.  So it wasn’t a monetary influence in going to home video for the sequels.  Perhaps it was because the lackluster critical reception of the first made the producers wary of the theatrical turnout of a sequel.  Perhaps it was the fact that hardly any of the original cast returned for the sequel.  Either way, two direct-to-video sequels were made.  They looked cheaper, they felt cheaper, and the movies made less money than the first.

The idea behind making direct-to-video Beverly Hills Chihuahua movies makes sense.  Regardless of the reasons behind not producing another theatrical release, the direct-to-video market is a perfect way to release the movies.  Parents who are browsing their streaming service (Netflix, hulu, Amazon) might stumble upon it.  They could see it for a cheap price in a store.  They could go to Redbox and find a copy of Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta! in stock.  They’ll plop their children in front of the television, turn on the movie, and go into the other room to do adult stuff.  It’s an easy distraction for kids when their parents have other things to do.  Instead of spending time taking their children to the theater and chaperoning while the children watch a new movie, they can find something new for children to watch at home.  It’s a market that is ripe for business.  Clearly, Beverly Hills Chihuahua wasn’t the movie series to cash in on it, but it isn’t hard to imagine that there is a series that could.

That’s basically what the direct-to-video market is about.  It is about giving home viewers something new to watch that they don’t have to go to the theater, or wait three months to see.  In the days of brick and mortar stores, it was about the viewer finding it on the shelf at the local Blockbuster.  Now, it’s about Netflix.  The idea is still the same, though.  It’s about catching someone’s eye, giving them something they want.  If they liked the original, they’ll likely be interested in a sequel.  That’s direct-to-video sequels for you.
There are a few notes I’m going to make before this post is done:

  • George Lopez is the only actor to have a role in all three Beverly Hills Chihuahua movies.
  • Loretta Devine was in Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.
  • Eddie 'Piolin' Sotelo was in Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3.
  • There were a handful of actors in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3.  They were Marcus Coloma, Erin Cahill, Odette Annable, Ernie Hudson, Emily Osment, Madison Pettis, Delaney Jones, Tom Kenny, and Miguel Ferrer.
  • French Stewart was in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.  He was also in 30 Nights of ParanormalActivity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Rise of theZombies.
  • Christine Lakin was in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.  She was also in Parental Guidance and NewYear’s Eve.
  • Beverly Hills Chihuahua featured Lombardo Boyar.  He showed up in Big Ass Spider!
  • In Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, Manny Sosa had a role.  He was in Baby’s Day Out as well.
  • Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 also featured Alyssa Milano, who was in New Year’s Eve.
  • Finally, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 had Sancho Martin in it.  Sancho Martin was also in Hansel and Gretel Get Baked.
  • I mentioned Death Race, The Marine, and Dorm Daze in the post, so I’m linking to them too.
  • If you have any movies that you think would make good Sunday “Bad” Movies, tell me.  I’m always looking for more movies to include.  You can do that by either commenting below, or telling me on Twitter.

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