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Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (The Comic-Con Experience 2008 #2)

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Date
07-30-2008
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Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

There is nothing more awesome than superheroes, supervillains and superstars singing and dancing their hearts out. So, with that in mind, the second installment of The Comic-Con Experience 2008 is Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. A web-based production directed and co-written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, starring Neil Patrick Harris (forthwith known as NPH), Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day, Dr. Horrible is something that, superficially, has nothing to do with horror. But, for our purposes, we’ll pretend it does. Because I say so.

Dr. Horrible is unique because, unlike most previous ventures into Internet production, it was financially successful1 and screamingly popular to boot. For the Friday night screening, the room was packed – so much that Comic-Con opened additional rooms to show this low-budget, sci-fi musical. The cast, along with creator Joss Whedon, even made an appearance, much to the screaming delight of hundreds of fans. And that was before the musical even began.

Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) gets emails!
Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) gets emails in this screencap from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog!

When the room darkened, and NPH’s face filled the large projection screen, the sound of deafening applause filled the air, practically shaking walls. And it didn’t stop there. The energy and enthusiasm for Dr. Horrible carried over through the entire 45-minute production, which follows a low-level supervillain (NPH) as he tries to defeat his nemesis Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) and work up the courage to talk to the cute girl at the laundromat (Felicia Day). Most of the audience sang along, waved their arms in time with the cast, and cheered for both the protagonist and the villain. When it was all over, Dr. Horrible got a standing ovation, with many audience members standing on their chairs as they clapped and screamed.

Cast and Crew of Dr. Horrible take the stage after the screening
The cast and crew of Dr. Horrible take to the stage after the screening...

...and receive a standing ovation
The cast and crew of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog receive a standing ovation
Photography by Nate Yapp

But what is most impressive about the screening of Dr. Horrible is what it foretells about the future of entertainment, a prediction that has a special significance for the horror industry. The production has been incredibly successful, with its limited free run on drhorrible.com, profitable iTunes distribution and a planned DVD release. Made with just the fraction of the budget you’d find in any theatrical release, Dr. Horrible’s return on the dollar is beyond impressive. The shorter, easily distributed format of an Internet release may prove to be a viable alternative to direct-to-DVD or theatrical release. Further, because its format lends itself to a shorter running time, one can hope to see Internet-released horror that lacks the meaningless, poorly produced filler that is sometimes stuck into features to meet runtime requirements.

1 Blogger/CEO Jeffrey McManus guesstimated that Joss himself has made $2.6 million dollars thus far on the venture. In a comment to Whedonesque, a weblog devoted to Whedon, Joss confirms that the numbers are "not far off."

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