Lionsgate has picked up global distribution rights to “The Smosh Movie,” starring the YouTube comedy duo of Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox, banking on their Internet celebrity to drive audiences to the feature-length film.
Production was jointly financed by DreamWorks Animation’s AwesomenessTV, headed by Brian Robbins, and Defy Media, a digital media company in which Lionsgate has an equity interest.
The film’s producers describe it as “a high-concept ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ for 2014” — and in fact, it’s being helmed by Alex Winter, who co-starred in the 1989 comedy alongside Keanu Reeves. The movie revolves around an embarrassing video of Anthony that surfaces online right before his fifth high school reunion. The Smosh dudes then race to pull down the clip before it blows Anthony’s chances of reconnecting with his teen crush Anna.
At this point, Lionsgate has not determined a release date or distribution plan for “The Smosh Movie.” The film may have a theatrical window in addition to digital and VOD, or it could be released day-and-date with digital or be digital-only. Shooting has been completed on the film, which is now in post-production.
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“’The Smosh Movie’ brings to life a YouTube comedy franchise beloved by fans around the world and reflects our commitment to extend storytelling in exciting new directions that reach today’s digital audience,” Jason Constantine, Lionsgate’s president of acquisitions and co-productions, said in a statement.
Smosh — Defy Media’s most iconic property — has more than 30 million combined YouTube subscribers, along with 19 million social media followers and 12 million monthly unique website visitors. The movie production “marks a major next step in super-serving our audience of millions and an opportunity to entertain millions more,” Defy Media CEO Matt Diamond said.
In addition to Padilla (above, right) and Hecox, “The Smosh Movie” will feature YouTube stars Jenna Marbles, Grace Helbig, Harley Morenstein, Shane Dawson, Mark Fischbach (“Markiplier”) and Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval, along with Jillian Nelson, Brittany Ross, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Michael Ian Black.
Added Robbins, “Smosh is one of the most treasured brands on YouTube, and Ian and Anthony are big-time comedic talents. Once we read Eric Falconer’s script, we knew we had something different and exciting.”
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Exec producers of “The Smosh Movie” are Brett Bouttier, Joe Davola, Barry Blumberg, Shauna Phelan, Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox. Brian Robbins serves as producer. Eric Falconer (“Blue Mountain State,” “How I Met Your Mother”) wrote the script, directed by Alex Winter (“Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Freaked”). The film was partially shot at YouTube Space LA.
Deal was negotiated for Lionsgate by Constantine, SVP of acquisitions Eda Kowan and EVP business and legal affairs for acquisitions and co-productions Wendy Jaffe. AwesomenessTV was repped by United Talent Agency.
Lionsgate also recently inked a first-look deal with YouTube creator Freddy Wong and his Rocket Jump Studios, producers of the “Video Game High School” series, to create original longform content for digital audiences. The studio also has another deal with AwesomenessTV and YouTube pranksters The Janoskians for a film project.