×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

D’Works plans reign for ‘Joseph’ vid pic

Affleck, Hamill, Light voice characters

Just seven weeks after Disney introduces the made-for-video sequel to “The Little Mermaid” on Sept. 19, the voice of Ariel will be singing a different tune on DreamWorks’ first video premiere.

Jodi Benson joins David Campbell and Maureen McGovern in singing five of the songs in DreamWorks’ long-in-production made-for-video musical animated film “Joseph: King of Dreams,” which was completed in April and is being released on Nov. 7.

Ben Affleck, Mark Hamill, Steven Weber and Judith Light are among the voice talent in the 75-minute movie that the studio is hoping will generate the kind of success that Disney and Universal have enjoyed with video premieres of sequels to “The Lion King,” “Aladdin” and “The Land Before Time,” among others.

Kelley Avery, worldwide head of DreamWorks Home Entertainment, would not discuss the budget of the movie that has been in the works for three years — even before “The Prince of Egypt” — but said it was comparable to the highest quality made-for-video movies because it was produced by DreamWorks film animation studio and because it was produced by much of the same team that worked on “Prince of Egypt,” including “P.O.E.” director Steve Hickner, who serves as one of the executive producers on “Joseph.”

Budgets on an upswing

Budgets for some made-for-video titles such as “The Return of Jafar,” “Aladdin: King of Thieves” and “Casper, A Spirited Beginning” have exceeded $10 million, according to estimates by industry sources. Universal’s computer-animated video premiere title “Casper’s Haunted Christmas,” being released Oct. 31, has an estimated budget of between $6 million and $9 million.

Although DreamWorks is leveraging “Prince of Egypt” both thematically and production-wise, Avery said the movie is unique in the made-for-video market because it is not a direct sequel and is not connected to a TV series.

“Studios need to step up and continue to deliver high-quality original movies for this marketplace,” she said. “We have a real opportunity to bring creativity and originality to this format.”

Although Avery would not say if the studio has committed to any other productions to premiere on video yet, she did say it was possible that the studio would consider producing annual made-for-video productions that could be other Bible-related stories or extensions of studio films. In addition to “Prince of Egypt,” other DreamWorks’ family fare includes “Antz,” “The Road to El Dorado” and Chicken Run.”

Heavy competition

Avery believes that the quality of the movie and the theatrical-level marketing push being mounted by DreamWorks will make the movie stand out from the unprecedented 19 video premieres being released in the next 19 weeks, beginning this week with Universal’s “Beethoven’s 3rd” and including “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” on Sept. 19.

Other titles include Universal’s “Dragonheart: A New Beginning” on Aug. 8, Disney’s Aug. 8 feature-length precursor to its new animated TV series “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins,” the Nickelodeon/Paramount release on Oct. 3 called “Blue’s Big Musical Movie,” and the latest installment in Universal’s ongoing franchise “The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire” on Nov. 28.

Avery says the challenge will be to create a theatrical-release kind of buzz around “Joseph.” “It’s like launching a small motion picture into the video marketplace.”

The studio is targeting younger viewers and their parents with the movie, which will have extra components on the DVD version, including read-along and sing-along features as well as DVD-ROM accessible trivia games and downloadable activity and coloring sheets and holiday greeting cards.

More Digital

  • Acorn TV

    AMC’s Best-of-British Streamer Acorn TV Launches in 30 New Territories

    Acorn TV launched in 30 new markets Tuesday, the biggest wave of international launches to date for the AMC-owned streaming service, which focuses on British and English-language drama. The platform is now live in Australasia, Spain, the Nordics, the Benelux countries and South Africa. The international rollout started in June, when Acorn TV launched in a [...]

  • cinedigm

    Cinedigm Assembles Content Ahead of Bambu Launch

    Cinedigm, the operator of specialty OTT services in North America, has signed a deal with China’s Starrise Media to release several Starrise productions on its soon-to-launch Chinese content streaming service, Bambu. The company has also signed deals with Alibaba-owned Chinese streaming giant Youku to distribute 30 original Chinese feature films. The deal covers release on [...]

  • NBCU Reality Streaming Service Hayu Launches

    NBCU’s Reality Streaming Service Hayu Launches in Three New Territories (EXCLUSIVE)

    It’s easier to keep up with the Kardashians in the Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg after NBCUniversal launched its reality-TV streaming service, hayu, in those countries Tuesday. The service went live with about 6,000 episodes of unscripted fare from NBCUniversal’s lineup, including “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “Made in Chelsea” and “The Real Housewives” and [...]

  • Michael Uslan's U2K Becomes Asia-Hollywood Formats

    Michael Uslan's U2K Becomes Asia-Hollywood Formats Pipeline (EXCLUSIVE)

    Michael and David Uslan, the father and son producing team with credits that include “The Dark Knight” and “Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch” have struck a cluster of deals that makes them a two-way conduit for TV formats between Hollywood and Asia. U2K, a company that includes the Uslans and Jon Karas (“Believe in [...]

  • Dish Testing Flixpert Content Recommendation Service

    Dish Tests Movie Recommendations App Flixpert (EXCLUSIVE)

    Dish and its corporate sibling EchoStar have quietly been testing a movie recommendations platform called Flixpert, Variety has learned. Flixpert promises to help people find movies to watch through recommendations from friends and trusted contacts; Dish has been testing mobile apps for the service with a few hundred users. Online footprints suggest that Flixpert has [...]

  • Craig Hunegs WB

    Craig Hunegs to Exit Warner Bros. TV Group and Digital Networks (EXCLUSIVE)

    After nearly 25 years in the Warner Bros. family, Craig Hunegs is exiting his post as head of business for Warner Bros. TV Group and president of the studio’s digital networks wing. Hunegs said he has been discussing his exit with Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Kevin Tsujihara for the past several months. At a time of [...]

  • Google Placeholder

    Google Accelerates Google+ Shutdown Following New Privacy Mishap

    Google will shutter its struggling social network Google+ sooner than previously announced: The company said Monday that Google+ will shut down in April of 2019. It also disclosed a new security vulnerability that briefly exposed personal data of some 52.5 million Google+ users. The bug, which was introduced to Google+ in November, allowed developers to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content