Film producer Codex Pictures has released a collector's edition boxset of its new film, Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie, 29 November 2010, ahead of its limited 2011 theatrical run. The $15m animated feature, based on a table-top battle game, is available through Codex's partner, Offshore Distribution & Fulfillment priced at £25.99 ($40.56), bypassing the traditional film finance model under which producers sell the rights to a distributor to offset production costs. Codex has instead retained a significant proportion of the DVD content rights; enabling it to sell what Codex anticipates will be 300,000 units directly to fans of the table-top battle franchise.
Games Workshop's Warhammer table-top battle has already spawned innumerable books and a number of moderately successful console games alongside a MORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). These titles, like the film, are not exclusively but predominately targeted at fans of the franchise whose core audience overlaps strongly with that of PC and console gaming. It is this focus on a dedicated fan base, and thus limited appeal of the film to theatre operators, which has enabled Codex's pre-theatrical release the film on DVD; contrary to the traditional windowing structure which constrains larger content owners. For titles such as this the strategy is far more likely to drive pre awareness of the film via internet forums (viral peer to peer marketing) and thus stimulate awareness of any upcoming theatrical run. Furthermore the high price of the boxset, the exclusivity of the content and the limited potential audience will stem video piracy associated with the film despite the DVD pre-release.