Finally, you’ve made it to the fifth and final part
Movies are sometimes made for straight-to-video releases, but sometimes their stories get expanded for a theatrical run. Here are 8 examples.
1. Toy Story 2. Pixar planned Toy Story 2 as a straight-to-video release, while the animation studio moved on to make A Bug’s Life. However, early development and footage convinced Disney and Pixar to make it a theatrical release instead. John Lasseter re-developed the story and scale, as Toy Story 2 became a box office hit in 1999.
2. Crazy Heart. Fox Searchlight original planned a direct-to-DVD release for Crazy Heart. However, with a solid soundtrack and great performance from Jeff Bridges, the movie studio decided to open the movie in theaters with a limited release. Crazy Heart eventually made $47 million and Jeff Bridges won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
3. Planes. Disney planned Planes to be a Pixar’s Cars spin-off, but early test footage and storyboards made Disney release the animated movie in theaters instead. It also received a sequel called Planes: Fire and Rescue.
4. Donnie Darko. It was a small independent movie that was very close to going straight-to-video until Drew Barrymore stepped in and helped Donnie Darko get a theatrical run. While it wasn’t a hit, it flourished on home video, ironically.
5. Slumdog Millionaire. In 2008, Warner Independent Films acquired Slumdog Millionaire after it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Unfortunately, Warner Independent Films folded later in the year. Slumdog Millionaire was very close to being a straight-to-DVD movie, but Fox Searchlight stepped in and released the movie theatrically. It’s a good thing that they didn’t because it won Best Picture and Best Director during the 81st Academy Awards in 2009.
6. The Tigger Movie. It was originally planned to be a straight-to-video release, but Disney CEO Michael Eisner heard the Sherman Brothers score and music for the animated film and changed his mind about. It went on to be a box office hit, as it gained more interest in Winnie the Pooh.
7. Taken. It was planned to be a straight-to-video release until Liam Neeson signed on to star. “It was a very simple story of a guy trying to look after his child, but I did think it was going straight to video.” Taken spawned a successful film franchise earning $226 million worldwide.
8. Fast and Furious. While the Fast and the Furious film franchise is one of the most profitable in movie history, it’s middle entries were on shaky ground after lackluster box office numbers for The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The third and fourth movies were very close to seeing a straight-to-video release, but Vin Diesel resurrected the franchise after he left when he agreed to make a small cameo in the third film in exchange for the Riddick film rights from Universal Pictures. He also signed on as a producer and effectively rebooted the franchise with the fourth entry, Fast and Furious.