Greenlights 18 straight-to-DVD films for 2009

In a time of industry retrenchment, the Weinstein Co.’s Dimension Films is investing in the vid biz, greenlighting a batch of 18 direct-to-video pics for 2009 release.

The pics, budgeted at $3 million to $6 million apiece, are expected to begin shooting soon in several biz-friendly locales, among them Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico and Canada. All fall under the Dimension Extreme label and will go through homevid distrib Genius Products.

Shooting will wrap by year’s end on most projects, though a few may stretch into the first quarter. DVD releases in 2009 are planned for all 18, the company said.

TWC co-chairman Bob Weinstein said the films, mostly sequels, prequels, remakes or spinoffs of TWC/Dimension titles, could debut in a particular ancillary arena — DVD, VOD, TV or the Web — depending on a closer look as they near release.

Under the Genius pact, the films also will have an exclusive rental berth in Blockbuster stores.

“There are so many non-theatrical platforms to watch movies from nowadays, I think it’s important to appeal to all moviegoing experiences,” Weinstein said. “Having learned how profitable a video library is and having already found great success launching franchises on video, this was a natural and obvious progression.”

In the Weinstein era, Miramax struck gold with direct-to-video follow-ups of pics such as “Hellraiser” and “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

Titles in the new crop include “Pulse 2” (a sequel to the $20 million grosser from 2006) and extensions of “Children of the Corn,” “Feast” and “Hell Ride.” One of the lone non-horror titles is “Last Man Standing,” a comedy from the scripter of “Monster-in-Law.”

Also on the docket are “Dead by Daylight,” a zombie pic from Raw Nerve, the production entity behind the “Hostel” pics; and “Midnight Man 2” and “Midnight Man 3,” sequels focusing on a villain called the Exterminator dreamed up by the creators of “Feast,” “Saw IV” and “Saw V.”

Upcoming Dimension theatricals such as “Piranha 3-D” and the next “Halloween” installment will likely spawn titles ticketed for Extreme, Weinstein said.

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