Home entertainment is sweet for Against the Wild franchise

Director Richard Boddington (pictured) on why the direct-to-DVD model has worked well for his family-orientated Against the Wild series.
Jeri and Richard

Production is underway on Hamilton-based Sudden Storm Entertainment, Against The Wild Films and South African Enigma Pictures’ Against the Wild 2: Survive the Serengeti.

Richard Boddington, director on the first Against the Wild, is reprising his role as producer and director for the Canada-South Africa copro, a sequel to the Canadian-produced Against the Wild. Against the Wild 2, however, will feature a completely different cast, save the dog.

Like the first film, Against the Wild 2 is being set up for the home entertainment market, where DVD is still a sweet spot.

“These movies are being set up with the anthology approach, something similar to what was done with the old Twilight Zone series…the kids are different, the parents are different, the only character that stayed the same was the dog. He continued on from the first film to this film, his character, and that’s what connects the two movies,” Boddington told Playback Daily.

The greenlight for the latest Against the Wild film came after Boddington pitched the idea to Anchor Bay about a month after the U.S-based distributor, producer and home entertainment company had released the first film on DVD and VOD stateside. Anchor Bay Entertainment is a division of Starz Media.

The first film, a 100% Canadian production made by Against The Wild Films and filmed in Northern Ontario, also went straight to DVD in March 2014 as a  Walmart exclusive, making over $2 million in domestic DVD sales and reaching number 11 in its first week on the DVD sales chart in the U.S., Boddington noted.

Foregoing a theatrical release and producing a straight-to-DVD film presents a “tremendous” opportunity in the family-oriented market across all regions, especially in the States where there is “such a massive evangelical, family-friendly market,” said Boddington.

Currently, only U.S. Starz  and France’s TF1 are backing the film. While no Canadian broadcasters have come on board yet, Boddington expects them to once the film is completed, adding that the CBC only got behind the first film after seeing the finished project.

Produced on a budget of $1.8 to $2 million, Against the Wild 2: Survive the Serengeti will star Jeri Ryan, John Paul Ruttan and Ella Ballentine. It is expected to be released in spring of 2016 across all platforms.  Shooting for the sequel is expected to wrap up on May 17 in South Africa. 

Against the Wild 2: Surviving the Serengeti is produced by Sudden Storm Entertainment, Against The Wild Films and South Africa’s Enigma Pictures. Anchor Bay Films is the U.S. distributor, while Raven Banner will distribute the film in Canada and DARO Film Distribution will handle international sales.

Aside from his role as producer and director, Boddington serves as writer for Against the Wild 2. Jesse Ikeman and Greg Buckle serve as producers, while Pierre-André Rochat, Marc Swenker, Don Fenton and Mary Fisher are executive producing the film.