If there is one thing independent film production is good for is attracting lawsuits. The latest legal lunacy is centered on the 2009 movie Transylmania (AKA Dorm Daze III).
Financier Third Eye Capital are suing the film's makers for failing to repay the $22 million they invested in the movie, and for using money from the movie's budget for personal expenses.
The lawsuit also says that the film was branded as a spoof of Twilight and True Blood when it was really just a low-brow farce about 30-something actors playing stoner college guys running around chasing 30-something actresses, who look like strippers, playing co-eds while both are being chased by vampires. Reports say that the film was, in fact, a sequel to the straight to video "comedies" Dorm Daze I & Dorm Daze II that I had never even heard of before I started digging around about his movie.
Now I have to ask some questions.
About the movie as an investment:
What made the financiers think that sinking money into the production and 1,000+ screen release of a movie called Transylmania or Dorm Daze III was a good investment?
About the lawsuit saying the filmmakers bogusly branded the movie as a parody of Twilight and True Blood when it wasn't:
Didn't the investors read the script of the movie they were putting $22 million into and know what it was?
If they did, how radically different was the script they read from the final shooting script? Was it radical enough to qualify as a deceptive practice, or just run of the mill production rewrites?
Then the release of the movie...
It's predecessors were straight to video movies that came and went without much notice among people who don't watch movies while high. So why release this film in over 1,000 theaters, which is an expensive proposition? (And lets not forget that it was made in 2008 and released in early December 2009, a time dominated by the annual Oscar fodder and the exponentially building hype for the then upcoming release of Avatar.)
Now the answer to most of these question is probably that they were trying to
rip off cash in on the modest popularity of the Scary Movie franchise, its assorted spin offs and imitators.
Which brings me back to the question I asked about the branding of the movie. You sell a movie as a spoof, which has a following, but deliver a frat-boy T&A farce, which don't have a following outside the DVD discount bin, you are going to get bad word of mouth from your target audience to go with the traditional bad reviews from critics.
How could that possibly be good for anyone involved?
So from what I can gather this movie looked like one big ill conceived disaster from just about every angle, and probably should have been avoided right from the beginning.
I guess the lesson is that nothing makes someone a millionaire faster than being a billionaire investing in movies, and that you shouldn't put in a dime unless you know everything about what you're getting into, including where every last penny is going to be spent.
Hey, Third Eye Capital, give me $22 million. I can't guarantee you a hit, but I can promise that it would have a lot better chance at success than Transylmania.