Philadelphia ad agency Gyro, which in 10 years has grown steadily into a small-scale new-media, merchandising and retail empire, has just signed with UTA and is negotiating a first-look deal with AtomFilms.
Gyro made its Atom debut in May with “Bikini Bandits, Episode Seven,” a five-minute tale of “girls, guns and carnage,” in the words of Gyro CEO Steve Grass, in which four buxom women rob a convenience store called the G-mart. It was one of the most popular live-action short films on the Web, receiving more than 460,000 views within the first six weeks.
Five more installments of “Bikini Bandits,” all written and directed by Grass, and starring his brother Peter, have been produced. Gyro has plans for five more, and is developing a theatrical feature based on the series.
Gyro’s ad clients include R.J. Reynolds, Puma and M&M/Mars. It runs a clothing and housewares company, Sailor Jerry, featuring the artwork of a WW II-era tattoo artist, with its own line of 99-proof rum. The company, which also runs a Philadelphia retail outlet, plans to spin other short films into feature projects.
“What Gyro is good at is hyping things and promoting consumer goods,” Grass said. “We have a clear advantage over other filmmakers because we’re good marketers.”
“We think we can extend their brand into the motion picture and TV business,” said UTA TV department manager Peter Benedict, who’s also one of the heads of the tenpercentery’s new-ventures department. “My hope is that we can turn ‘Bikini Bandits’ into a franchise along the lines of ‘Wayne’s World’ or ‘South Park’.”
As part of its deal with Gyro, Atom will take all rights, except for merchandising, to “Bikini Bandits,” and own a stake in the feature, acquisitions veep Jannat Gargi said.
Atom is also selling a “Bikini Bandits” DVD.