Starz Media Opens Early VOD Window For Zombie's 'Superbeasto' Film

Starz Media's animation production outfit Film Roman is teaming with Rob Zombie to premiere the movie producer/rock singer's new animated film The Haunted World of El Superbeasto on select video-on-platforms Sept. 7, a week prior to movie's theatrical debut.

The R-rated film, which chronicles the exploits of a crime-fighting, over-the-hill masked wrestler, will debut on DirecTV, Dish Network and Comcast Cable's VOD platforms at a suggested price of $6.99 -- about $2 more than the typical VOD movie title, according to Starz Media senior vice president of digital media, business development and strategy Marc DeBevoise.

The movie, which features the voices of Tom Papa, Paul Giamatti and Rosario Dawson, will have a limited release in 50 theaters theatres across the country beginning Sept. 12, before debuting simultaneously on DVD shelves and all operator VOD outlets Sept. 22.

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto marks the first Starz Media-produced or distributed title to hit VOD prior to its theatrical release. Typically, movies out of Starz Media camp, which includes theatrical companies Overture Films and Anchor Bay Films, have a 29-day VOD window after DVD release.

But DeBevoise said the unique nature of the film, as well as recent publicity surrounding Zombie regarding his Halloween II film release last month and his upcoming music CD release, made the timing perfect for Starz to experiment with movie distribution windows.

"We felt it was the right tsunami of Zombie-ness out in the marketplace that his fans would be hungry and interested enough in his work to look at an early preview of his movie on [VOD] platforms at the right price," he said.

DeBevoise would not project how many viewers would pay to see the movie in its early VOD release. "One of the things we're trying to learn here is what the appeal is of the movie in the early [VOD] window. But we have high hopes for it," he said.

While Starz doesn't have any near term plans to roll out other movies on VOD prior to their theatrical or DVD premieres, he did say that an Anchor Bay-distributed horror movie spoof dubbed Stan Helsing -- produced by Bo Zenga of Scary Movie franchise fame -- would roll out simultaneously on DVD and VOD on Oct. 27, less than a week after the movie's Oct. 23 theatrical debut.

"We're looking to maximize the value of the title ... Stan Helsing as well as Beasto will be a test of whether all these platforms can cross-promote each other," DeBevoise said.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.