By Jacob Davison and Jonathan Correia
When it comes to horror home video releases, one of the biggest names in the field is SCREAM FACTORY. The genre themed division of SHOUT FACTORY has made an impact on boutique blu-ray and DVD releases, with Collector’s Edition versions of huge titles like THE THING, NIGHTBREED, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART 2, and so many more. We caught up with Jeff Nelson, the senior marketing director and co-founder of Scream Factory, at Monsterpalooza. Scream Factory hosting its first ever convention booth in part to celebrate the label’s 5th anniversary, and featuring a number of future titles on sale before market date. We talked with him about the label, titles, and the process of making such scream-worthy releases!
(Image credit: Scream Factory)
What titles had some of the best fan responses?
Best fan response would probably be Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut was a big feat for us and The Halloween Collection in conjunction with Anchor Bay was a huge one. Our best selling titles? Well The Babadook is our best selling by a large margin. It was such a popular movie, we hit it when the time was right, and it turned into a phenomenon. We did a great job with Mad Max because we came out at the same time as Fury Road. They Live is our number one selling Carpenter title, people were just blown away by the artwork and the fact that we did it. The Fog is up there, though I am sure I am going over five. Other winners: Lifeforce, Halloween 2&3 single releases, The Thing is already a monster title for us.
Well, the transfer looks amazing.
How it all came together and the fact that it was two-discs, we had a new interview with Carpenter, the TV version, and the new transfer. I mean, it takes you a week to go through the extras. It’s hard because after two hundred and fifty plus releases in five years, there’s still other titles I am not mentioning that are just as strong or have have their merits. Night of the Demons, Sleepaway Camp, Town that Dreaded Sundown, there are so many its so hard for me to keep it together sometimes. ARMY OF DARKNESS! CARRIE! CHILD’S PLAY! EXORCIST III! BLACK CHRISTMAS! Every year we have this “Wow I can’t believe we got this big movie” moment.
What’s the process for picking titles? Because sometimes it’s easy to spot with your access to old MGM titles, but every now and then you have titles that come out of left field.
Right, like The Paul Naschy Collection we just announced. Sometimes people say they didn’t see this film coming. I’ll try to make this as simple as I can. We at Scream Factory/Shout Factory, we have some existing relationships with some studios. But people in our acquisitions department also look elsewhere for independent people that have films that we might be able to acquire or we knock on the doors of the other studios that we can’t sub-license from at this time and we try to work out deals. We pay an advance for these films and we don’t own them. So some people think we can just do everything and anything with a film. Nah. We might have a movie with uncut scenes or deleted scenes, sometimes we can’t do it from the studios for X-Y-Z reasons. But basically being fans ourselves we look at what’s out there, look at whats not been exploited, look was has been, and see if we can do better, then we go from there. We as fans ourselves, we look for films that we like but we think will sell.
Do you have any “Pie in the Sky” dream titles?
Absolutely. For me personally, for the company, and what we see that the fans want is The Keep finally. I think they want to see Fright Night Part II, I think they want to see Trick R’ Treat, Maximum Overdrive, and they want to see a lot of titles that are in the Warner and Paramount libraries like April Fools Day, Silver Bullet, Deadly Friend, and a whole bunch of other films. Critters. Now for me personally I have been spoiled. I have had some of my all time favorite films come out here like The Fog, The Sentinel, and Halloween III. But I would still love for us to get Alligator. Alligator is a personal favorite of mine. I love that movie with a passion. I would love Warner to unlock Al Pacino’s Cruising, which is not your typical Scream Factory title, but it’s a slasher film, lets be honest. It’s pretty hardcore. That would be a great title to get. Those are the two at the top of my list, but Hell Night would be a great one as well. Hell Night is a great one that deserves some love that is like “Why isn’t that out on blu-ray already?”
That’s not one that usually comes up in casual conversation.
The Linda Blair one? We get a lot of requests for that. Over the five years of looking at everything on the Facebook and Twitter, we’ve seen Hell Night come up quite a bit. Because it is a Linda Blair film from the producers of Halloween and its a slasher film. With The Burning and Terror Train doing well for us it would make sense for us to get that. Hopefully we could.
Want to possibly leak any upcoming titles?
I can’t. We will have fans ask us all the time “Hey, do you have this movies, do you think you will have this movie?” I have never said “Yes we do” to an individual request and we can’t do that because it would open up the floodgates. We only announce things once deals are signed and we have some elements going on. There has been a couple of cases where we have announced before some of that stuff has happened and its come back to bite us in the ass. So we are very strategic on how and when we announce.
Your social media presence is very strong , especially on Facebook.
120,000 followers is crazy! To this day I feel like Santa Claus every now and then when I am announcing titles because even if the titles don’t register with everybody they register with a lot. Even a smaller title like Windows we have coming out this July or Demented in April, there are fans for those movies. I am happy when we announce and they’re excited. It makes me excited personally.
I felt that way when you announced Death Becomes Her. It was every welcomed and unexpected.
Death Becomes Her, again, not your typical Scream Factory title. Its more of a comedy, but we got it. I love it. Its finally in widescreen, which it hadn’t been in widescreen before, so we had to correct that wrong for when it was on the DVD. I will say Death Becomes Her had come together a bit better in the extras department than we had hoped. We thought we had a path to Streep and Hawn, it didn’t quite work out. But we tried and sometimes that happens.
There was something else with that release because you couldn’t do a new collector’s cover.
Only a couple of times in our Scream Factory history have we not been able to really do an illustrated cover for “reasons.” Like with the Psycho 2&3 releases we couldn’t do them because that Norman Bates Psycho property is very sensitive one to Universal and that makes sense. Its a tent-pole and franchise for them so we couldn’t do that. So, with Death Becomes Her we had likeness issues that if we were to do an illustration for the cover we would have had to go to Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, and Goldie Hawn which would cause us to never get this thing out. They’re busy, it could get mucky, and it’s very sensitive. So, we stuck with the original theatrical artwork on that which everybody knows and loves. But that was an example of a collector’s edition that we couldn’t even do that.
How to your formulate the collector’s covers? Do you reach out to artists or do you have a pool?
We do have a pool of artists that we are so fortunate to have these great artists to have, to come to us, and to work with us. Paul Shipper, Joel Robinson, Nathan Thomas Milliner, Justin Osbourn, and The CRP Group who are relatively new design group that has done some of our stuff. We have just been so lucky! When we has a project that requires an illustrated cover, we look at the film and we gage its sensibility. Something Like Serial Mom for instance needs a bit more of a classy cover where its not floating heads, but something like Tales From the Hood is a fun movie that you want to see it kind of exploded. So, we go from there. Most of the time I think we strike right, but art is subjective and you’re never going to please everybody. I’m not even pleased, I’ll be honest. There are some covers of ours that I think “eh thats not that great” but another person in the company thinks is great or is a better fan of that film. Sometime you have to trust their judgement too. Art is so subjective, as is media.
You mentioned before that Slashers sell really well. Are there other sub-genres that sell well?
Slashers tend to sell well, but not all slashers. Terror Train and The Burning were big hits for us. New Years Evil, eh, not so much. Cherry Falls, eh ok. Sleepaway Camp, big hit. I mean, it depends on the title and the fan love for them as well. As far as other sub-genres well, Ginger Snaps and The Howling did well for us, so werewolves. Bad Moon and Dog Soldiers did ok for us. Werewolves tend to sell for us, but then The Boy Who Cried Werewolf didn’t, so it’s hard to predict. Not all of our titles are the same. You’ll have some people who will buy a lot, but then you have the same group of people who just don’t care about this movie. This doesn’t speak to my sensibilities and that’s ok. I can’t think of another sub-genre. I can’t say possession or so-bad-it’s-good-movies. It’s hard to tell, but I think every movie has its own set of rules and then we kind of look at it from that. Carpenter does really well. I will say that on record. Even Village of the Damned can do somewhat decent for us.
That’s a testament to your product if even Village of the Damned can do well.
I didn’t say it sold great, but I can say that it sold solid and thats because its John Carpenter. As much as that film gets, you know…
Yes! Ragged on. That’s probably a better way to put it. There are still many fans of it, and thats great too. I think we have something for everyone in our library.