Zombie’s ‘Superbeasto’ heading to VOD

R-rated animated pic also gets limited theater run

With a title like “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto,” you know it’s a picture aimed primarily at young men.

To make the most of its R-rated animated feature directed by Rob Zombie, Starz Media aims to court the WWE and comicbook-loving aud with an ambitious alternative distribution plan for “Superbeasto,” produced by Starz’ Film Roman unit.

The title will bow today as a video-on-demand or pay-per-view offering via cable operators Comcast Corp. and Charter and satcasters DirecTV and Dish Network. As of Saturday, the pic based on Zombie’s comicbook of the same name will have a limited run in 50 theaters spread across 22 states.

On Sept. 22, “Superbeasto” lands on DVD and download-to-own platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Xbox and PlayStation.

Starz Media execs devised the unusual rollout plan because they knew the raunchy toon’s prime target aud is the young men who are plugged in to the world of VOD and download-to-own services, particularly through the vidgame console platforms. “Superbeasto” also hopes to piggyback on the B.O. attention for the Zombie-directed “Halloween II,” which bowed last month.

“Superbeasto” revolves around the misadventures of sexy crime-fighting secret agent and an over-the-hill wrestler named Beasto. Pic’s voice cast includes Paul Giamatti, Rosario Dawson, Tom Papa and Sheri Moon Zombie. Rob Zombie dubs it ” ‘Austin Powers’ meets ‘The Munsters’ by way of ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’ ”

“We’re obviously not shooting for the 40-plus set,” said Marc DeBevoise, Starz’ senior veep of digital media, business development and strategy. “We’re looking for a very specific audience that we know is limited, but it’s also very targeted. The audience we’re looking for is using VOD, so this kind of (release) plan works a lot better for them than if we were trying to reach a four-quadrant group of people.”

“Superbeasto” has been in the works for years at the Film Roman animation studio. Starz execs see it as a perfect property to experiment with an alternative release plan as part of the company’s efforts to break the mold of standard theatrical, VOD and DVD windowing.

The “Superbeasto” plan will also be a test of what the market will bear for original niche fare. The initial VOD/PPV offering will sell for $6.99. As of Sept. 22, the download-to-own price tag will be about $15, while the VOD/PPV price will drop to about $4 as Time Warner Cable and Cox Cable also add the title. (Exact prices will be set by the individual distribs.)

DeBevoise said he expects “Superbeasto” will be available on VOD/PPV for 120 days, longer than the usual window for theatrical releases. Starz is hoping that the Zombie fan factor and the array of viewing options will add up to a solid haul for a pic that might otherwise have a hard time gaining traction through a traditional limited theatrical rollout.

“We’ll look at everything across the board and in the end see how it compares to other limited theatrical movies,” DeBevoise said. “In our dream of dreams, this will become a cult hit.”

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