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Sequels spice up ‘Ginger’

Canuck horror flicks attract auds away from home

MONTREAL — The story of Canuck horror series “Ginger Snaps” is, in part, a cautionary tale about how hard it is to make money with Canadian films.

But Canadian films under-performing at the box office is hardly new. What’s different about the “Ginger Snaps” trilogy is that the films attracted attention around the globe even though they failed to do boffo business at home.

The fact a Canadian horror trilogy even exists is notable. There are few sequels and even fewer trilogies in the history of Canadian film. “Ginger Snaps,” which focuses on two teen sisters-turned-werewolves, managed this unusual feat because the original pic, released in Canada three years ago, became a cult hit on video and DVD.

Montreal distributor TVA Films poured major bucks into the marketing campaign for the theatrical launch, but the first “Ginger Snaps” didn’t do nearly as well as TVA expected.

But it did decent business in the U.K. and Hong Kong, and positively cashed in on DVD/video.

Steven Hoban, producer of the three “Ginger Snaps” pics, says there was more call for a sequel from the U.S. than from Canada as a result of the strong DVD numbers in the U.S.

The DVD of “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed” was released April 13 in both countries, with Seville Pictures distributing in Canada and Lions Gate handling the release in the U.S.

The third film, which was shot late last year at the same time as the sequel, is a prequel, titled “Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning” and the pic, set in the early 1800s, will be out on DVD in the fall.

In the original, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), an unhappy teen living in suburban Canada, turns into a bloodthirsty, horrifying werewolf. In the second installment, Ginger’s sister Brigitte (Emily Perkins) desperately tries to stop herself going the same way, but any horror fan knows she’s going to be barking at the moon by the end of the pic.

Like the original, the second pic, directed by first-time feature helmer Brett Sullivan, delivers a high-IQ, somewhat offbeat take on the horror genre.

“The first film struck a chord because it was a clever use of the werewolf mythology,” said Hoban. “It used the werewolf as a metaphor for teen angst and that appealed to teen girls. I’m a big horror fan. What I like to do is to take the genre and apply real craft to it and not make it a factory operation.”

Toronto-based 49th Parallel, which produced the last two “Ginger Snaps” films, recently disbanded, but Hoban, who was one of the partners in 49th Parallel, is still very much active as a producer via his Copper Heart shingle.

Copper Heart has an animated short, “Ryan,” playing in Critics Weeks at Cannes, and the company is developing a mini-series based on two best-selling books about The War of 1812 between the U.S. and Canada, by Canuck author Pierre Berton.

There is also more horror on the way for Hoban. His company is set to shoot a re-make of the 1975 cult favorite Canadian horror film “Black Christmas,” with original helmer Bob Clark attached as executive producer.

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