Old actors are cashing in on a few days' work...
What's the best job in Hollywood? You might think it's living your dream as a writer or director, but what if it's actually being an aging actor who works one to two days a month on low-budget movies that pay extremely well?
You've probably seen clips of these often-terrible movies floating around on Twitter or other forms of social media. They might have a rotund Steven Segal toting a gun, or Nic Cage hunting an albino lion.
These low-budget affairs are called "Geezer Teasers." They're genre movies that star older actors and cater to the direct-to-video (or streaming) market.
But what's the process behind these movies, and how do they make money? Who gets rich off them? I decided to take a peek into the world when I was up late scrolling through some particularly bad options on streaming sites.
Vulture got there first and published a whole breakdown of how these movies get made. They followed an incredibly successful Geezer Teaser producer named Randall Emmett, who has over 100+ titles to his name. While he's worked with Scorsese on Silence and The Irishman, he rose in Hollywood after being Mark Wahlberg's assistant (Turtle in Entourage is based on him).
He saw how movies were made and financed and had a good idea. Grab stars who were fading, offer them lots of money for a little work, and leverage their power overseas to get the financing together to make a movie they could sell.
As Vulture explains:
"There’s a crude, blunt brilliance to Emmett’s filmmaking formula: Accept money from just about anyone willing to hand it over, offer vast sums of it to an aging star for a day or two of work, then leverage that actor’s name to presell the movie in foreign markets. Along the way, forgo union writers and directors whenever possible, keep shooting days to a minimum, and film on location in places like Puerto Rico, where the local government offers filmmakers tax credits that can be sold on the open market for 90 cents on the dollar."
This kind of genius was easily replicable and efficient. And he did it well, building his own franchises like the Escape Plan series, along with luring huge stars like Stallone, De Niro, and even John Malkovich. These are people who used to get a lot of great movie roles, but now want to make millions over a few days. They're playing roles that are front and center on the poster but maybe the equivalent of a walk-on, or even a minor character.
And it's not just Emmett doing these kinds of movies. They're very popular all over the world, especially on streaming sites that need a star's face to get you to click and watch.
This is the same strategy that used to be done with "straight to video" movies with Steven Segal on the cover. You could pick them up in the Walmart bargain bin for $5, see a star's face, and take a chance. Now, you're cruising on Netflix and press play, with little to no risk. And all these streamers want content, so they're not worried about chap options, as long as they can capitalize on famous people.
What's your take on these movies and the people behind them?
I wish one of them worked out like The Producers and brought us an accidental hit, which still might happen someday. Let me know what you think in the comments.
I wrote a book that took a slightly different angle: Take an actor/stuntman/martial artist who looks like another more famous actor and make a movie using the more famous actor's action movie template.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the profitable genius that is DEATH KISS.
You can also see the movie here: https://tubitv.com/movies/495458/death-kiss?start=true
There is plenty of money to be made with small films that fill specific niches - especially if you are ready to make a lot of movies. I was the Director of Marketing at York Entertainment for two years and we sold over 100 movies worldwide filling the action, urban, horror, and comedy niches. With today's tech, and streaming platforms the operational aspects of delivering an entertaining movie are there - you just need a good script that can be shot well in 12 days or less.
January 14, 2022 at 11:32AM
Oh My Gosh! This has been being done since the beginning of film.
January 14, 2022 at 9:55PM