As we’ve reported before, major studios are increasingly putting out product aimed specifically for the lucrative direct-to-DVD market. But to say the original product thus far has been underwhelming might b a wee bit of an understatement. Let’s face it: We’re talking cheap quickies/sequels made for no other reason than to turn a buck. It’s solid business, and that trumps art any day when we’re talking big studios. But when you’re talking the Weinsteins, you’re looking at a different animal altogether. Whatever you may think of their acquisition and release practices, Harvey and Bob have shown time-and-time again that they do actually care about something other than the bottom line, and regardless of how much it hurts said line, they continually stick their neck out for maverick filmmakers and give them a mainstream audience.

They’re now looking to bring the same spirit to their direct-to-DVD line, or to be more accurate, lines. They’ve announced three specialty lines that will be primarily direct-to-DVD, but may occasionally theatrically release a film or two. Each line has a very specific brand that will let you know what kind of film you’re going to get upfront. Acting as a direct-to-DVD counter of sorts to contemporaries like Fox Atomic, Dimension Extreme will be their new dedicated line for horror, sci-fi, comedy, and thrillers. And first to bat is the restored version of Suspiria. They’ll follow it up with a broad range of pics including Pulse 2, Rogue from Wolf Creek director Greg McLean, and Dirty Sanchez, a gonzo-style British comedy. 

The Miriam Collection, named of course for their mother, will be the high-brow counterpart, specializing in restorations, prestige, and foreign pics, and I would imagine that this is the line that would get titles most likely for limited theatrical release. They’ve got a doozy of an initial lineup including El Cid, Akira Kurosawa’s Madadayo, and Pedro Almodovar’s Dark Habits – all older, smaller titles now finally getting a proper release. On top of all of that, there will annually be a special release tagged as “Bob and Harvey’s Pick” wherein all proceeds from it will go to charity.

Finally, Kaleidoscope TWC will handle all upcoming family titles, and this is where the quality seems to drop off most as they’ve announced nothing but cheap CG adaptations of stuff like the original Nutty Professor and a Jim Henson Company movie based on popular fables. With the bar in this market set so low, however, it’s absolutely possible that this could be the most profitable of the three divisions. If it pays for the first two, who cares? For fans of genre material and forgotten works from master directors, this is great news. And for those of you still holding on to hope of direct-to-DVD full lengths of any of the Grindhouse trailers, your dreams just came a small step closer to reality.