Top 10 Action Legends

Tuesday, September 14 2010
Top 10 Action Legends

Lionsgate and Optimum’s joint Action Legends activity, themed around the theatrical release of The Expendables, has been one of the summer’s promotional highlights.

It was an excellent piece of drafting, led by TV advertising and well executed in-store, offering similar action titles and releases featuring Expendables stars, handpicked from Lionsgate and Optimum’s respective catalogues – the fact that they share the same sales operation (Elevation Sales) made the logistics easier too. We’ve already covered it at length in our weekly newsletter, but here’s a look at the 10 bestsellers from the initial burst of activity.

1. The Hurt Locker (Lionsgate)

One of the newer titles in the top 10 and one that shows how wide the net was cast when it came to pulling together the Action Legends promotional activity. It doesn’t feature any of The Expendables stars, but it brings added weight and kudos to the promotion, thanks, in no small part, to the clutch of Oscars that it brought to the proceedings. An effective crossover title, this wooed everyone from broadsheet to tabloid audiences. A well-timed release in stores – it had enjoyed one burst of success, then picked up its Academy Awards and went on to keep on selling, it’s been a notable success…

2. Righteous Kill (Lionsgate)

A safe bet for anyone buying into the Action Legends promotion; there’s no denying that the joint billing of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino certainly justifies the use of the word “legends”. They appeared together on screen for only the second time together in this 2008 outing, which has enjoyed a long home entertainment shelf-life.

3. Crank 2 – High Voltage (Lionsgate)

In action terms, star Jason Statham is one of the few stars who can hold a candle to the heroes of the first video boom of the 1980s. That’s certainly something that Sylvester Stallone recognised when it came to pulling together the cast for The Expendables, so much so he roped Statham in to the proceedings. Where other potential heroes haven’t necessarily lived up to either their potential or hype (think Vin Diesel, for example), Statham has carved out a strong career for himself, much of it on DVD and Blu-ray.

4. The Condemned (Lionsgate)

A pivotal film in the current wave of DTV success stories, with Lionsgate’s release showing what could be done with a film that had little awareness, but a strong commercial plot and a couple of familiar names. Stone Cold Steve Austin (well, just Steve Austin now he’s left the WWE, but retaining his moniker for this his first major film outing) is the tough hero going up against the likes of Vinnie Jones. Part Running Man, part Battle Royale and part No Escape (a mid-90s Ray Liotta vehicle), this far exceeded expectations on original release, and has continued to do so.

5. Rise Of The Footsoldier (Optimum)

Action of a different kind, with this tale of hooligans turned gangster being a particularly British genre, but it’s been as influential in the home entertainment sector as The Condemned, showing how to bring this kind of title to market. Optimum’s nicely scheduled release came out on DVD in the post-Christmas December slot and has provided the template for similar releases ever since (if you don’t believe us, see how many similar bloke-y films are due just after December 25 this year). And the story that inspired it is equally important – with Revolver’s Bonded By Blood (due in that same slot after Christmas 2010) is the third take on this tale of Essex drug dealers offing each other left, right and centre.

6. The Wrestler (Optimum)

Mickey Rourke appears to be having a whale of a time in The Expendables, and while the Oscar-friendly The Wrestler sees the actor turned boxer turned actor again playing a seasoned old pro less for laughs, it served to remind people what a great actor he can be, and helped him reinvigorate his career.

7. Inglorious Bastards (Optimum)

The name alone – as taken by Quentin Tarantino – guarantees an interest in Optimum’s original Italian flick and at a promotional price it certainly works, as evidenced here.

8. Leon (Optimum)

For someone who doesn’t have the physique to be an action hero, Jean Reno, thick French accent and all, has been in his fair share of titles from the genre. Leon, all very stylised and very hip, exemplifies director Luc Besson’s work – he’s had a hand in District 13, Taken and Anchor Bay’s forthcoming 22 Bullets.

9. Universal Soldier (Optimum)

From the old VHS days, this title saw Dolph Lundgren (who’s in The Expendables), and Jean-Claude Van Damme (who’s not), team up for a relatively bug budget film for them. Hugely successful at the time, it’s films like this that shaped some of the audience for The Expendables.

10. Terminator 2 Judgment Day (Optimum)

Still arguably Schwarzenegger’s finest moment, certainly his defining role as the cyborg from the future. It’s state of the art special effects elevated it to blockbuster level and it has continued to sell in numerous

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