News: Hereafter DVD sales to benefit Japan relief

Hereafter movie scene


Talk about awkward timing. Warner Bros.‘ drama movie Hereafter, which recreates the tsunami that smashed Phuket, Thailand, in 2008, was playing in Japan when the 8.9 earthquake pushed a huge tsunami over the country’s coast. The movie was quickly pulled from theaters there, but the DVD and Blu-ray was released in the U.S. yesterday, and Warner is now saying it will donate $1 million from the disc’s proceeds to aid Japan after its recent disaster.

Starring Matt Damon (Green Zone) and directed by Clint Eastwood, Hereafter isn’t actually about the 2008 tsunami. The film weaves together three stories of people dealing with death, including one in which French actress Cecile de France’s (High Tension) outlook on life is changed after nearly drowning in the tsunami. Still, the film’s timing is definitely awkward.

Moviefone’s Cinematical blog says Warner’s decision to donate proceeds from the disc sales “feels wrong,” saying it’s basically a publicity stunt for a film that didn’t do so well at the box office. Indeed, Walt Disney Studios also is donating funds for relief efforts in Japan to the tune of $2.5 million to the American Red Cross and matching employee contributions up to $1 million — and that’s not based on sales of a DVD or Blu-ray title.

On the one hand, I see Cinematical’s point. Looking at Disney and Warner side by side, Disney comes out looking like the knight in shining armor.

But I wouldn’t go so far as to say Warner’s actions are “slimy,” as Cinematical said. With Damon’s blue eyes shining out from the DVD and Blu-ray box, Hereafter is one of those movies that was likely to do better in the home market than in theaters, even without this added publicity (not that hurts). Plus, the news of Hereafter being pulled from theaters in Japan because of the bad timing probably will bring curious viewers by itself, without the donation.

That said, sure Warner could — should? — have made its donation without tying it to the DVD/Blu-ray release. But we say, what’s up with the $1 million cap? Disney went higher than that without a movie tie-in. How about increasing the amount and saying the donation will be made no matter how well Hereafter sells on disc? Come on, guys. You can afford it.

What do you think? Will this donation make you more likely to buy Hereafter?

About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.