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Cult DVDs – What is Their Future?
“I started in this business in 1992, and it’s the worst I’ve ever seen on the market.” This is a quote from Don May, Jr. of Synapse Films, a distributor of “cult DVDs”, which I found in Oliver Carter’s blog post “Cult DVDs No More?” dated March 6, 2007. Two years later, the market probably hasn’t improved. The current slowdown in cult DVD releases and reading some of the websites of companies that distribute them has me wondering if a cable TV channel that specializes in cult movies is what it takes to fill the niche.
Cult DVD releases have declined in recent years. Consumer DVD releases in the United States and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom are in droves, with over 200 releases each week. According to Carter, “smaller specialty businesses are now finding it very difficult to make a profit in the current climate, especially given the cost of producing a DVD.” He also wrote that companies such as Blue Underground and No Shame released few new products and that consumers often criticized what was released, such as Italian “giallo” films.
I checked out some of these websites to get an idea of what kind of movies they offer. I looked at the Blue Underground and Synapse Films sites, but No Shame Films went bankrupt. Both sites’ offerings have a lean towards exploitation, but Blue Underground is more varied. Their titles are categorized into “Action/Adventure, TV, Suspense/Thriller, Musical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Erotica, Drama, Documentary, Cult Classics, Comedy,” and “Western.” However, many of the same titles appear in different categories. The Synapse site’s catalog is divided into “Synapse Films” and “Impulse Pictures”, which appear to be entirely horror and erotica content, respectively.
If these types of movies don’t sell well on DVD, perhaps a dedicated cable or satellite TV channel is in order. No doubt a lot of people would turn a blind eye to such a station, but it doesn’t have to be part of the basic cable or satellite TV package. Of course, there are already channels devoted to independent films like Sundance and IFC, but they mainly show recent independent “art” films. I don’t know of any cable or satellite TV channel that specializes in “schlock” or exploitation films that have a following from, say, the 60s to the mid-80s. There may be a market for fans who like these kinds of movies but don’t want to pay $20 for a DVD to see one.
Perhaps a programming executive should take the initiative and create a “Cult Film Channel” specializing in cult exploitation films from decades past. If the DVD request is not there, fill it with a TV channel.
Copyright 2009 by Ken Armstrong
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