Warner eats up Raw Feed

Pacts for next three titles from growing genre label

Warner Home Video is set to announce today an agreement to acquire the next three films to be released directly to DVD under the Raw Feed banner, an edgy line launched in March 2006 under the theatrical catalog group.

The line consists of adult-themed genre films, mostly horror, sci-fi and psychological thrillers, with budgets of up to $5 million.

The next three projects are tentatively titled "Otis," "Supermarket" and "Rest Stop 2," the latter a sequel to the first Raw Feed film, about a couple terrorized by a crazed killer at a back-road rest stop.

"Otis," a dark satire that centers on an abduction, begins principal photography this month, with Tony Krantz (an executive producer of Fox's "24") directing a cast led by Daniel Stern, Illeana Douglas and Kevin Pollak.

"Supermarket" is the line's first true sci-fi film, while "Rest Stop" is firmly in the horror/slasher film category enjoying a resurgence in theaters.

All three films will be shot in the Los Angeles area. At least two will be released to the home video market in 2008, on the same day they become available on VOD.

"Otis" marks new ground for Raw Feed in that three veteran actors have signed on. "We've added a new component to the formula by adding a legitimate, top-line cast," said Jeff Baker, senior vp and GM at Warner's theatrical catalog division. "For the most part, these have been genre- and story-driven films, not dependent on brand-name casting. But in the case of 'Otis,' based on peoples' shooting schedules, three fairly accomplished actors have gravitated toward the film, and we were able to secure them, which is very exciting."

Baker said the Raw Feed line was born as a result of a pitch to Warner from Krantz, John Shiban ("The X-Files") and Daniel Myrick (co-creator of "The Blair Witch Project").

"We felt this was a compelling array of content that was really different from what was currently on the market, and we also saw the promise of positive financial results for the company," Baker said.

That promise has been met, he added: The first "Rest Stop" alone sold more than 500,000 DVDs in less than a year, while typical direct-to-video releases normally move anywhere from 100,000-200,000 units.

The two films that have been released so far under the branded line, Shiban's "Rest Stop" (which came out in October) and Krantz's "Sublime" (released in March), have benefited from strategic marketing campaigns specifically geared toward horror, sci-fi and thriller audiences.

Next up is "Believers," directed by Myrick and slated for an Oct. 16 release. The film recently won best feature film and best actor honors at the Solstice Film Festival.

One thing that sets Raw Feed films apart from other DVD releases is that each one includes an exclusive short that is a tangent to the original movie's story line.

"Rather than going the traditional route, showing outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage, things like that, we also create enhanced content that is kind of an offshoot of the film — unusual little film vignettes that run anywhere from eight to 15 minutes," Baker said.