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Next 'Jackass' pic aimed squarely at Web
By Andrew Wallenstein
Dec 13, 2007
"Jackass Number Two"
The "Jackass" gang is about to attempt its most audacious stunt yet: online-first movie distribution.
In a radical departure from the traditional movie business model, Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment and MTV New Media are co-producing "Jackass 2.5," a sequel to its two-time boxoffice hit that will skip multiplexes entirely.
Instead, "2.5" will be offered online for free over a two-week span beginning Dec. 19 courtesy of Blockbuster and its new online property Movielink, which will exclusively host the 64-minute film during that period. The movie will be made available at blockbuster.jackassworld.com
From there, the film will move on to different pay-per-view platforms including iTunes and DVD as part of a light-speed reinvention of the customary distribution-window chain. The domestic release strategy will be replicated internationally early next year, but with different distribution partners.
In addition, the movie launch will be a curtain-raiser for JackassWorld.com, which will establish a permanent online home for the franchise beginning Feb. 9. MTV will oversee the site with "Jackass" shingle Dickhouse Prods.
As the first studio-backed broadband film, "2.5" is a bold shift for a franchise that has delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to parent company Viacom in traditional distribution channels, from theaters to DVD. When all is said and done, "2.5" could end up a milestone in Hollywood's transition to digital media or an overly ambitious misstep.
Tom Lesinski, president of Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment, emphasizes that the film won't be the last experiment from a studio intent on being a first mover in the space.
"We're trying to shake up the model," he said. "We're trying to prove that some form of longform distribution can be successful on the Internet."
David Gale, executive vp new media at MTV Networks Music Group, acknowledged that longform programming is a rarity online, where the conventional wisdom holds that shorter is better. But he begs to differ.
"People say it's serialized shortform content and that's the way you should see it, but that's not going to be the (whole) future," he said. "That's only part of the future."
"2.5" reunites all players on both sides of the camera from previous "Jackass" films, including executive producer Spike Jonze. The franchise has averaged nearly $80 million in worldwide gross over two separate theatrical releases: "Jackass: The Movie" in 2002 and "Jackass Number Two" in 2006. While not blockbuster numbers, they represent significant profit given that production costs were a fraction of the gross. Both films also opened at No. 1 in North America.