What does "straight to video" mean?
I've been trying to expand my horizon in the world of movies and keep bumping into films I haven't heard about that are "straight to video". What does that mean?
Straight to Video or, commonly, STV or even direct to video are the modern equivalent of "B movies" from the 50s: they're low budget movies whose producers have realized that they won't be able to get on any cinematic screens to be "in the theaters", so they've instead opted to go directly to what's commonly the second or third step in the distribution of a movie.
Major productions are almost always released first to movie theaters (the so-called "theatrical release"), then often to premium pay channels (in-hotel services like Spectravision), then standard pay channels (HBO, Cinemax), then, finally, to video distribution channels like Blockbuster and Netflix. Finally they'll be released to broadcast TV and if they really stink might end up filling a 2am slot one Sunday so that the channel has something to show between the idiotic late-night adverts that generate some of the operating revenue for the station.
So the order is theatrical, premium channels, pay channels, video outlets, commercial TV. Got it?
Now, if you produce a truly mediocre film that is clearly not going to draw in sufficient audience to movie theaters to justify the cost of projecting it (and costing theater owners the lost revenue of not having a more popular movie showing), you have a problem: the movie might be good, but if you can't brand it, if you can't garner some name recognition, it's not going to do well on hotel channels or other premium services, so they'll reject it too. HBO doesn't want to buy rights to a movie that no-one's going to watch, for example.
The solution? Skip all the earlier steps and simply drop a DVD of your movie into the distribution channels. A store like Blockbuster will stock films that might only be rented once or twice a year since it gives them the ability to promote how many films they have in stock without having to generate too much per-disk revenue since the stock space required is minimal and the cost of buying the movie is minimal too.
The 2007 release Alien versus Hunter is an example of an STV movie. A rip-off of the successful Alien series and Alien versus Predator it clearly had a multi-million dollar production budget, but it also clearly is not going to be showing at the local United Artists multiplex downtown this coming weekend. :-)
There's an interesting wikipedia article on the subject, along with some interesting articles on Variety (a Hollywood business publication). In one review, Varsity comments that "Recycling continues apace at Walt Disney, where nary an animated feature -- classic or contemporary -- is too sacrosanct to be reconstituted as a direct-to-vid sequel. Some of these toon retreads have been instantly forgettable, and a few have been memorable for all the wrong reason..."
So there you go. Hope that's informative.
This article was written by contributing editor Eric Savage.
More Useful d) None of the Above Articles:
✔ What's the most popular Halloween candy?
It's Halloween, All Hallow's Eve, and in the United States, at least, that means it's time for a strange custom that children throughout...✔ Review: Sony NEX-5N Digital Camera
This is a guest post by professional photographer Paul M. Bowers... I was born and raised in the briar patch of commercial photography-...✔ How do other countries celebrate Independence Day?
Hello Mr. Taylor. The other kids in my class say that every country celebrates Independence Day on July 4th and that it's a...✔ What is a ponzi scheme?
Dave, a friend of mine listened politely to my explanation of how a multi-tiered marketing system I've signed up for works, then told...✔ Update firmware on my Panasonic Blu-Ray DVD player?
I have a Panasonic DMP-BDT320 blu-ray DVD player and it's starting to report that I need a 'firmware' update or upgrade. I have...
Let's stay in touch!
Sign up for my weekly AskDaveTaylor Newsletter and you'll receive even more tech and gadget help right to your inbox, along with exclusive news and industry updates. It's good stuff. I promise!
I do have a comment, now that you mention it!
Check This Out Too...
Look for Answers
All Our Categories
Apple iPad Help
Articles and Reviews
Auctions and Online Shopping
Blogs and Blogging
Building Web Site Traffic
Business and Management
Computer and Internet Basics
d) None of the Above
Google Gmail Help
Google Plus Help
Industry News and Trade Shows
iPhone and Cell Phone Help
iPod, Sony PSP and MP3 Player Help
Kindle Fire Help
Mac OS X Help
Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Shell Script Programming
Tech Support Video Help
The Writing Business
Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Network Help
Unix and Linux Help
Video Game Tips and Help
Windows PC Help
Find Me on Google+
ADT on G+