Through his Web site Ain’t It Cool News, Harry Knowles has become a self-appointed arbiter of what is cool onscreen. Revolution Studios is betting that he can not only judge the viability of work by others but can hatch cool films himself.
In a deal that’s unusual because Knowles writes about the industry, Revolution is negotiating a deal that will make Knowles the producer of “Ghost Town,” an original comedy he pitched. The pic is the first step on what will likely be a multiple-film arrangement with the studio.
Knowles, who has operated his site for over seven years from modest confines in Austin, Texas, will house his fledgling producing operation there as well. He will continue to preside over a Web page that delivers gossip usually supplied by insiders as well as early results of test screenings that often drive studio execs and filmmakers crazy.
The film deal is being brokered by Endeavor, and Knowles said the overture came from Revolution partner Todd Garner.
“Todd surprised by asking if I’d be interested in producing and did I have any ideas,” Knowles said. “This was out of left field, but I figured it’d be best to say yes and then think of them.
“Two weeks ago, Todd and Derek Dauchy came back to town, and I had a list of 50 projects. They liked this original concept I’d come up with. I threw out the name of a writer they thought would be perfect, and we are negotiating with him.”
Though his only involvement in the business came on a Comedy Central pilot based on his site, Knowles regularly corresponds with enough filmmakers to have confidence he can find his way in the producing game.
Knowles is bracing for the inevitable charge that he has become part of the Hollywood system he regularly lacerates. Each item on the site invites reader comment, and Harry’s army is an ornery bunch. He expects them to be most critical of his new role.
“They’re going to hate it,” he predicted. “When a writing deal was announced for Drew McWeeny, who writes on the site as Moriarty, people were congratulatory. When anything good happens to me, there is a collective outburst of unfettered jealousy and anger.”
Despite the brickbats, Knowles said the site will not temper opinions of Revolution product just because he is making a deal there.
“While all of this has been coming together, I just ran a major negative review of their film ‘Radio,’ and a lukewarm review of ‘Peter Pan,'” Knowles said.