What It Takes to Make a Hollywood Mockbuster, the "Slightly Shittier" Blockbuster

Meet the people making cheesy, low-budget versions of hit movies.

Asylum Pictures producer Paul Bales compares the Hollywood "mockbuster" movies his company makes to store-brand medications.

"If you go into your pharmacy, you'll see the brand name decongestant, and you'll see the store's version which looks exactly like it, but it just calls it decongestant. That's a mockbuster," he said. “I think the audience understands that you're not buying the same thing; you're just buying a slightly shittier thing,”


On Friday, Disney releases the live-action remake of its 1992 animated classic, "Aladdin." But two weeks ago, Asylum Pictures, the small, low budget studio, released its own version — "Adventures of Aladdin."

That’s not a coincidence. That’s Asylum’s business model.

Asylum Pictures churns out faux blockbusters, or "mockbusters," for about the price of a major movie’s catering budget. These shoestring imitation movies confuse viewers looking for genuine Hollywood blockbusters.

Just don’t expect the knockoffs to be great.

With more downloadable movie services, the Hollywood imitation movie market has become big business. Movies are timed for release just before a big blockbuster hits theaters. Recent titles include "Metal Man" — a take on "Iron Man" — "Almighty Thor," and "Transmorphers."

This segment originally aired May 23, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.