Blood Sucking Vampires…

No, really,blood sucking vampires, not some insult aimed at industry executives…

Guest blog entry from Jupiter’s European Media Analyst Nick Thomas

With horror movies as popular as ever at the box office, it looks like a good time for legendary production house Hammer Horror, like one of its vampire characters, to rise from the grave to distribute its latest release via a series of mini-episodes on MySpace, prior to releasing the whole thing on DVD.

The connection between today’s gory blockbusters and Christopher Lee’s Dracula may seem tenuous, but it’s a fair bet that the creators of Saw and Hostel, as proper horror buffs, were weaned on classic Hammer Horror re-runs on TV. Reacting to the stuffy British cinema of the 1950s, Hammer caught the mood of a changing time by being a bit sexy, a bit violent and (for the time) a lot scary.

Now the company has to “recalibrate its DNA”, as a company spokesman put it, to appeal to a new generation of fans. Reaching out to where teen consumers already are – on MySpace – makes a lot of sense. The big movie companies have been slow to respond to changing consumption patterns, and are still relying on controlling their traditional DVD release windows, and hoping that piracy can somehow be controlled. (Look out for a report into that in 2008).

There is a creative challenge in producing content that works as both a series of short episodes and as a full-length story (Dickens had that one cracked), but with many low-budget Brit pics never seeing theatrical distribution, this is an innovative way of engaging a young audience that is increasingly watching video content online.

In my upcoming report on consumption of online video, I argue that while young audiences are spending increasing amounts of time online, their consumption of TV is not declining. So within a finite amount of media consumption, other activities will need to actively compete for these eyeballs.

As for Hammer’s ‘Beyond the Rave’, the cynical ex film critic in me wonders whether a low budget horror pic starring Sadie Frost is the vehicle to reinvent the model of movie distribution, but hey, I’m no longer in the core demographic.