×

How Marvel is Turning to Short Films to Sell More DVDs, Blu-rays

The shorts give Marvel a way to give fans more backstory to characters that may not warrant their own film franchises

Marvel Studios has figured out a clever way to tell more stories featuring its heroes, while also giving consumers more of a reason to buy its films when they’re released on homevideo.

The company has produced a series of short films under the “Marvel One-Shots” moniker that are exclusively released on DVD and Blu-ray.

The latest short, “Agent Carter,” starring Hayley Atwell, debuts with the “Iron Man 3Blu-ray on Sept. 24, and digital on Sept. 3, and revolves around the character of Peggy Carter in search of a mysterious item known as the Zodiac as she works for an organization that later becomes S.H.I.E.L.D. Film begins with the final scene of “Captain America: The First Avenger,” as Carter says goodbye to Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, and then flash forward to a year after “Captain America.” Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito directed the short, which also features Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”) and Shane Black (in a voice cameo). Atwell also appears in the upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

The short was introduced at Comic-Con in San Diego last week.

SEE ALSO: Comic-Con: What Joss Whedon Has Planned for ‘The Avengers’ Sequel

Three others — “The Consultant,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to “Thor’s Hammer” and “Item 47” — appeared on the discs for “The Avengers,” “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Eric Pearson penned all of the short films.

Each short is designed to be a self-contained story that provides more backstory of the characters audiences have gotten to know through the “Iron Man,” “Thor” and “Captain America” films. The first two were four minutes, while “Item 47” is 12 minutes. “Agent Carter” is the longest at around 15 minutes.

“The Consultant:” Directed by RSA’s animation director Leythum, the short revolves around the Marvel character Emil Blonsky, who turns into the Abomination (seen in “The Incredible Hulk”) being recruited to join the Avengers Initiative, and stars Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson (Marvel’s “Agents of SHIELD”), and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. Short was released on the “Thor” Blu-ray discs in 2011.

In “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer,” Gregg returns as Agent Coulson who confronts robbers in a diner while on his way to retrieve Thor’s hammer in New Mexico. Short was also helmed by Leythum. Both “The Consultant” and “Funny Thing” featured music by Paul Oakenfold. Short was released on the “Captain America: The First Avenger” discs in 2011.

 Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford starred in “Item 47” as a couple that discover a weapon of the Chitauri, the alien villains in “The Avengers,” after their battle with the superheroes in New York City. D’Esposito directed the short that was released with “The Avengers” discs last year.

The shorts are seen as a “fun way to experiment with new characters and ideas, but more importantly it’s a way for us to expand the Marvel cinematic universe and tell stories that live outside the plot of our features,’ according to co-producer Brad Winderbaum. At the same time, the shorts are a way for Marvel to give smaller films to characters that may not warrant their own stand-alone franchises.

Shorts featuring “Thor’s” Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston), Nick Fury and Black Panther had been developed but were scrapped because the cost to produce them would have been too high to make them worth it.

In addition to releasing the shorts on homevideo, Marvel is considering introducing them in theaters before a Marvel film release.

More Biz

  • Bert Salke and Jennifer Salke

    Feds Looked Into Amazon Studios Chief Jennifer Salke in College Admissions Scandal

    Federal investigators looked into Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke and her husband, Fox 21 Television Studios president Bert Salke, as they conducted a sprawling probe of cheating in elite college admissions, a source close to the case told Variety. It does not appear, however, that prosecutors will charge the Salkes in the case. The Salkes [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Big Blackout Looms as CBS, AT&T Go Down to Wire on Renewal Talks

    A blackout affecting CBS stations in major markets throughout the country looms as CBS and AT&T executives go down to the wire on negotiations for a retransmission consent deal covering 28 O&O stations. The sides have sparred publicly during the past few days as 11 p.m. PT Friday expiration of the previous contract approached. AT&T [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    ICM Responds to WGA Packaging Lawsuit: Claims are 'Baseless' and 'Absurd'

    ICM Partners has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against four major talent agencies by the Writers Guild of America as part of the larger war between agencies and the guild over packaging fees on TV series and movies. The guild sued ICM, CAA, WME and UTA in California state court in April, [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content