The Asylum

The Asylum is an American independent film company and distributor that focuses on producing low-budget, direct-to-video films. The company has produced titles that capitalize on productions by major studios, often using film titles and scripts very similar to those of current blockbusters in order to lure customers. These titles have been dubbed "mockbusters" by the press.[2][3][4][5][6] Its titles are distributed by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, GT Media, and as of 2015, Cinedigm. They are perhaps best known for creating the Sharknado films and the Syfy original series Z Nation. As of 2009/2010, The Asylum has never had any losses from its film productions.[7][8]

The Asylum
Film, television
Founded1997 (1997)
FounderDavid Michael Latt
David Rimawi
Sherri Strain
HeadquartersBurbank, California, United States[1]
OwnerPrivately held
DivisionsFaith Films


The Asylum was founded by director David Michael Latt and former Village Roadshow executives David Rimawi and Sherri Strain in 1997.[2] The company focused on producing straight-to-video low-budget films, usually in the horror genre, but were unable to find a market due to competition from major studios, such as Lions Gate Entertainment.[2] In 2005, the company produced a low-budget adaptation of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, which was released in the same year as Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the same material. Blockbuster Inc. ordered 100,000 copies of The Asylum's adaptation, a significantly larger order than any of the company's previous releases, resulting in Latt and Rimawi reconsidering their business model.[2][6]

In 2007, similarities between the distributor's titles and those of major studios were reported. For example, the film Transmorphers bears a number of similarities to the film Transformers, which was released theatrically two days after the release of Transmorphers.[2][3][6] According to Latt, "I'm not trying to dupe anybody. I'm just trying to get my films watched. Other people do tie-ins all the time; they’re just better at being subtle about it. Another studio might make a giant robot movie that ties into the Transformers release and call it Robot Wars. We’ll call ours Transmorphers."[2] In 2008, 20th Century Fox threatened legal action against The Asylum over The Day the Earth Stopped, a film capitalizing on The Day the Earth Stood Still.[9]

Similarly in May 2012, Universal Pictures filed a lawsuit against The Asylum for their film American Battleship, claiming infringement on their movie, Battleship.[6][10] As a result, The Asylum changed their title to American Warships.

In 2013, Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and The Hobbit producer Saul Zaentz commenced legal action against The Asylum for their film Age of the Hobbits (later called Lord of the Elves), claiming that they were "free-riding" on the worldwide promotional campaign for Peter Jackson's forthcoming films. The Asylum claimed its movie is legally sound because its hobbits are not based on the J. R. R. Tolkien creations.[11] The lawsuit resulted in a temporary restraining order preventing The Asylum from releasing the film on its scheduled release date.[6][12]

Deal with Cinedigm Corp

In February 2015, The Asylum signed a multi-year deal with Cinedigm Corp;[13] the deal provided 12 films over three years.[14]



The Asylum has been producing Z Nation for the Syfy Network since late 2014. The show is about a group that attempts to get the only known person with immunity to a zombie virus from New York to the last operating lab in California. According to show-runner Karl Shaefer, the show is intended to bring "a sense of hope to the horror of the apocalypse."[15] Ratings for Z Nation have been unexpectedly high, and about 1.6 million views per episode,[16] and has been renewed for a fifth season.[17][18]

An eight episode spin-off of Z Nation, Black Summer has been ordered by Netflix. It focuses on a mother (Jaime King) who is searching for her daughter during the worst summer of the zombie apocalypse . The show eschews the comedy elements of the parent series and focuses instead on horror themes.[19]

The Asylum maintains a channel on streaming service Pluto TV, which showcases its movies.[20]


The Asylum's usual budget for a production is reportedly "well under a million dollars", and it typically breaks even after about three months. The Asylum has never lost money on a film.[7][8] The company's productions have been called B movies[2] and "mockbusters".[2][4] Latt prefers the term "tie-ins" to "mockbusters",[2] stating that The Asylum's productions, even those that capitalize on major releases, contain original stories.[2] Latt states that the company plans its productions around the word of mouth of the financial prospects of upcoming films.[4] The Asylum's films are usually released on video shortly before the theatrical release of a major studio film with similar themes or storylines.[4]

The Asylum has also produced films with strong religious themes.[2] For example, The Apocalypse was initially developed as a straightforward disaster film in the style of Deep Impact, but Latt states that certain buyers wanted the company to develop a religious film.[2] As a result, the company consulted priests and rabbis in order to incorporate faith-based elements.[2] The division Faith Films was created in order to distribute titles with such themes.[2] Sunday School Musical was produced after The Asylum staff attended a seminar for marketing to a Christian audience where the seminar's host suggested that the perfect film would be a Christian version of High School Musical.[5]

The Asylum productions sometimes feature more overt sexuality or graphic violence than their major studio counterparts, because The Asylum's releases are not in competition with films rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America.[4] Rolf Potts of The New York Times described Transmorphers as having "no recognizable actors, no merchandising tie-ins and a garbled sound mix. Also unlike Transformers, it has cheap special effects and a subplot involving lesbians."[2]

The 2008 release Death Racers featured the hip hop group Insane Clown Posse and wrestler Scott "Raven" Levy in major roles.[21] In 2009, the Asylum released its first 3D picture, Sex Pot.


Year Title Director Notes Mockbuster of / Based on
1999 Bellyfruit Kerri Green The Asylum's first feature film. N/A
2001 Fourplay Mike Binder Also known as Londinium
2002 Scarecrow Emmanuel Itier
2003 Scarecrow Slayer David Michael Latt Sequel to Scarecrow.
2004 Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill Byron Werner First Asylum in house film
Vampires vs. Zombies Vince D'Amato Also known as Carmilla, the Lesbian Vampire
King of the Ants Stuart Gordon
2005 The Beast of Bray Road Leigh Scott
Alien Abduction Eric Forsberg
H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds David Michael Latt Also known as Invasion or H. G. Wells' The Worlds in War outside of North America.
Setting update of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.
War of the Worlds
King of the Lost World Leigh Scott King Kong
Dead Men Walking Pete Mervis N/A
2006 Snakes on a Train Peter Mervis Directed by Mervis under the pseudonym The Mallachi Brothers Snakes on a Plane
The Da Vinci Treasure The Da Vinci Code
When a Killer Calls When a Stranger Calls
666: The Child Jack Perez Followed by 666: The Beast The Omen
Halloween Night Mark Atkins Halloween
Pirates of Treasure Island Leigh Scott Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Hillside Cannibals The Hills Have Eyes
Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The 9/11 Commission Report Based on the September 11, 2001 attacks United 93 and World Trade Center
Dragon Eragon
2007 Transmorphers Transformers
The Hitchhiker The Hitcher
AVH: Alien vs. Hunter Scott Harper Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
The Apocalypse Justin Jones N/A
Invasion of the Pod People The Invasion
30,000 Leagues Under the Sea Gabriel Bologna Setting update of the Jules Verne novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea N/A
666: The Beast Nick Eberhart Sequel to 666: The Child
Freakshow Drew Bell Remake of the 1932 film Freaks
I Am Omega Griff Furst I Am Legend
2008 100 Million BC 10,000 BC
2012: Doomsday Nick Eberhart Followed by 2012: Supernova in 2009 and 2012: Ice Age in 2011 Doomsday
Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls Mark Atkins Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Death Racers Roy Knyrim Death Race
Journey to the Center of the Earth Scott Wheeler and David Jones Journey to the Center of the Earth
Monster Eric Forsberg Cloverfield
Street Racer Teo Konuralp The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Sunday School Musical Rachel Lee Goldenberg The Asylum's first family musical under Faith Films High School Musical 3: Senior Year
The Day the Earth Stopped C. Thomas Howell The Day the Earth Stood Still
War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave Sequel to H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds N/A
2009 The Land That Time Forgot Land of the Lost
Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus Ace Hannah Followed by Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus in 2010, Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark in 2014 and Mega Shark vs. Kolossus in 2015. N/A
#1 Cheerleader Camp Mark Quod Fired Up!
18-Year-Old Virgin Tamara Olson The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Sex Pot Eric Forsberg N/A
Princess of Mars Mark Atkins Retitled The Martian Colony Wars in some European countries Avatar
Haunting of Winchester House The Haunting in Connecticut
The Terminators Xavier Puslowski Terminator Salvation
Transmorphers: Fall of Man Scott Wheeler Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
2012: Supernova Anthony Fankhauser Sequel to 2012: Doomsday. 2012
Paranormal Entity Shane Van Dyke Followed by 8213: Gacy House, Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes, and 100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck Paranormal Activity
2010 6 Guns Jonah Hex and True Grit (2010 film)
Titanic II N/A
The 7 Adventures of Sinbad Adam Silver
Ben Hayflick
Title changed from The 7 Voyages of Sinbad due to legal issues Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
8213: Gacy House Anthony Fankhauser Also known as Paranormal Entity 2: Gacy House Paranormal Activity 2
Mega Piranha Eric Forsberg Piranha 3D
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes Rachel Lee Goldenberg Featuring characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes
MILF Scott Wheeler N/A
Moby Dick Trey Stokes Also known as 2010: Moby Dick or Moby Dick: 2010; setting update of Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick.
Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus Christopher Ray Sequel to Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus. Followed by Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark in 2014 and Mega Shark vs. Kolossus in 2015.
2011 Almighty Thor Thor
Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes Jude Gerard Prest Also known as Paranormal Entity 3: The Exorcist Tapes. Paranormal Activity 3
Battle of Los Angeles Mark Atkins Battle: Los Angeles
3 Musketeers Cole McKay Setting update of The Three Musketeers. The Three Musketeers
200 mph Fast Five
11/11/11 Keith Allen 11-11-11
2012: Ice Age Travis Fort Sequel to 2012: Doomsday and 2012: Supernova; part of the 2012 film series The Day After Tomorrow
Barely Legal Jose Montesinos N/A
The Amityville Haunting George Meed The Amityville Horror
Zombie Apocalypse Nick Lyon N/A
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid Mary Lambert
Princess and the Pony Rachel Lee Goldenberg The Asylum's first family film not marketed under Faith Films.
2012 Grimm's Snow White Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror
2-Headed Shark Attack Christopher Ray Followed by 3-Headed Shark Attack in 2015, 5-Headed Shark Attack in 2017 and 6-Headed Shark Attack in 2018. N/A
Bikini Spring Break Jared Cohn Spring Breakers
Hold Your Breath N/A
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies Richard Schenkman Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Alien Origin Mark Atkins Prometheus
100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck Martin Anderson Also known as Paranormal Entity 4: The Awakening. Paranormal Activity 4
American Warships Thunder Levin Title changed from American Battleship due to legal issues. Battleship
Clash of the Empires Joseph Lawson Title changed from Age of the Hobbits due to legal issues; also known as Lord of the Elves. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Nazis at the Center of the Earth Retitled Bloodstorm in the UK. Iron Sky
Rise of the Zombies Nick Lyon N/A
The Haunting of Whaley House Jose Prendes
2013 100 Degrees below Zero R. D. Braunstein
Celebrity Sex Tape Scott Wheeler
13/13/13 James C. Bressack
500 Mph Storm Daniel Lusko
AE: Apocalypse Earth Thunder Levin After Earth and Oblivion
Alone for Christmas Joe Lawson Plot has similarities to Home Alone, done with anthropomorphic animals. N/A
Attila Emmanuel Itier
Atlantic Rim[1] Jared Cohn Also known as Attack From Beneath.[22] Pacific Rim
Hansel & Gretel Anthony C. Ferrante Followed by 2015 film Hansel vs. Gretel Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Sharknado The first installment in the Sharknado film series. N/A
Jack the Giant Killer Mark Atkins Jack the Giant Slayer
Mother Mark Quod Also released as Social Nightmare. N/A
Age of Dinosaurs Joseph Lawson
2014 Age of Tomorrow James Kondelik Edge of Tomorrow
Airplane vs. Volcano N/A
Alpha House Jacob Cooney Neighbors
Android Cop Mark Atkins RoboCop
Apocalypse Pompeii Ben Demaree Pompeii
Asian School Girls Lawrence Silverstein N/A
Asteroid vs. Earth Christopher Ray
Mercenaries Followed by Mercenaries 2 in 2017. The Expendables 3
Bermuda Tentacles Nick Lyon Also known as American Warships 2. N/A
Hercules Reborn Hercules and The Legend of Hercules
Jailbait Jared Cohn Orange Is the New Black
Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark Emile Edwin Smith Sequel to Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus. Followed by Mega Shark vs. Kolossus in 2015. N/A
Sharknado 2: The Second One Anthony C. Ferrante Sequel to Sharknado. Followed by Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! in 2015.
Sleeping Beauty Casper Van Dien Maleficent
Blood Lake James Cullen Bressack N/A
Ardennes Fury Joseph J. Lawson Fury
Z Nation Craig Engler and Karl Schaefer The Asylum's first television series on Syfy. N/A
2015 Avengers Grimm[23] Jeremy M. Inman Avengers: Age of Ultron and Once Upon a Time
Bound Jared Cohn Fifty Shades of Grey
Mega Shark vs. Kolossus Christopher Ray Sequel to Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark. N/A
Hansel vs Gretel Ben Demaree Sequel to The Asylum's Hansel & Gretel
Road Wars Mark Atkins Mad Max: Fury Road
San Andreas Quake John Baumgartner San Andreas
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! Anthony C. Ferrante Sequel to Sharknado 2: The Second One. Followed by Sharknado: The 4th Awakens in 2016. N/A
Flight World War II Emile Edwin Smith
3-Headed Shark Attack Christopher Ray Sequel to 2-Headed Shark Attack. Followed by 5-Headed Shark Attack in 2017 and 6-Headed Shark Attack in 2018.
Martian Land Scott Wheeler The Martian
2016 Zoombies Glenn Miller Followed by Zoombies 2 in 2019. Zoo
Sharknado: The 4th Awakens Anthony C. Ferrante Sequel to Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!. Followed by Sharknado 5: Global Swarming in 2017. N/A
Izzie's Way Home[24] Sasha Burrow The Asylum's first animated film. Finding Dory
In the Name of Ben-Hur Nick Lyon Ben-Hur
Independents' Day Laura Beth Love Independence Day: Resurgence
Little Dead Rotting Hood Jared Cohn Little Red Riding Hood
Sinister Squad Jeremy M. Inman Suicide Squad
Ghosthunters Pearry Reginald Teo Ghostbusters
Dead 7 Danny Roew The Magnificent Seven
Trolland Ron Thorton Trolls
Planet of the Sharks Mark Atkins Planet of the Apes
2017 Jurassic School N/A
Ice Sharks Emile Edwin Smith
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table Jared Cohn Setting update of the Arthurian cycle. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Sharknado 5: Global Swarming Anthony C. Ferrante Sequel to Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. Followed by The Last Sharknado: It's About Time in 2018. N/A
Oceans Rising Adam Lipsius
The Fast and the Fierce Ron Thornton The Fate of the Furious
Evil Nanny Jared Cohn N/A
Nightmare Wedding Jose Montesinos
Geo-Disaster Thunder Levin Geostorm
CarGo Yolanda Ramke, Ben Howling The Asylum's second animated film. Cars 3
5-Headed Shark Attack Christopher Ray Sequel to 3-Headed Shark Attack. Followed by 6-Headed Shark Attack in 2018. N/A
Empire of the Sharks Mark Atkins Sequel to Planet of the Sharks
Alien Convergence Rob Pallatina Alien: Covenant
Operation Dunkirk Nick Lyon Dunkirk
Troy The Odyssey Tekin Girgin N/A
Mercenaries 2 Christopher Ray Sequel to Mercenaries.
2018 Megalodon James Thomas The Meg
Atlantic Rim: Resurrection Jared Cohn Pacific Rim Uprising
Tomb Invader James Thomas Also known as Tomb Hunter and The Tomb - Heart of the Dragon. Tomb Raider
Avengers Grimm: Time Wars Maximilian Elfeldt Sequel to Avengers Grimm Avengers: Infinity War
6-Headed Shark Attack Mark Atkins Sequel to 5-Headed Shark Attack N/A
Triassic World Dylan Vox Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
The Last Sharknado: It's About Time Anthony C. Ferrante Sequel to Sharknado 5: Global Swarming. N/A
Alien Predator Jared Cohn The Predator
Nazi Overlord Rob Pallatina Overlord
Hornet James Kondelik, Jon Kondelik Bumblebee
2019 Black Summer John Hyams Prequel series to Z Nation N/A
Zoombies 2 Sequel to Zoombies Zoo
Pet Sematary
Monster Island Mark Atkins Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Kong: Skull Island
Godzilla vs. Gigan
Pet Graveyard Pet Sematary
Adventures of Aladdin Glenn Campbell Aladdin
Clown It Chapter Two
D-Day Nick Lyon Midway
Battle Star Wars James Thomas Star Wars
The Final Level: Escaping Rancala Canyon Prince Jumanji


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  15. Venable, Nick (April 7, 2014). "The Asylum's Zombie Series Z Nation Scares Up 13-Episode Order From Syfy". Cinema Blend. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  16. Hibberd, James (September 15, 2014). "'Z Nation' ratings tie 'Walking Dead' (if you move the decimal point)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  17. Surette, Tim (October 21, 2014). "Syfy Renews Z Nation for Season 2 Because Z Nation Has Zombies in It". Yahoo!. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  18. Petski, Denise; Petski, Denise (November 29, 2016). "'Z Nation' Renewed For Fourth Season By Syfy".
  19. Long, Christian (July 19, 2018). "Black Summer: Z Nation spin-off starring Jaime King headed to Netflix". SYFY WIRE.
  20. "Pluto TV". Pluto TV.
  21. McLendon, Gary (September 16, 2008). "Henrietta actor has had varied life". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. Accessed September 27, 2008.
  22. "The Asylum | ATLANTIC RIM aka ATTACK FROM BENEATH". Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  23. "Fairy Tale Heroines Assemble for The Asylum's Avengers Grimm". Dread Central. December 23, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  24. Amid Amidi (January 23, 2016). "The 'Sharknado' Studio Has Found A Way To Cash In On 'Finding Dory'".
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