By Sahil Patel
Lionsgate has acquired worldwide distribution rights for “The Smosh Movie,” a new feature-length comedy film starring Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox, better known on YouTube as Smosh.
Financed and produced by Defy Media, which represents Hecox and Padilla and owns the Smosh brand, and AwesomenessTV, “The Smosh Movie” is described as a “high-concept ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ for 2014,” which makes sense since the film was directed by “Bill & Ted” helmer Alex Winter.
In the film, an embarrassing video of Padilla surfaces online right before his fifth high-school reunion. Needing to alter or remove the video before it ruins his chance to reconnect with a high school crush, Padilla and Hecox jump through a portal on to YouTube to find the clip.
Along the way, the duo will encounter numerous other YouTube stars, including Jenna Marbles, Grace Helbig, Harley Morenstein, Shane Dawson, and Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval. These online stars, which collectively reach more than 32 million subscribers, join a diverse cast that also includes Jillian Nelson, Brittany Ross, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and Michael Ian Black.
Written by Eric Falconer (“How I Met Your Mother”), “The Smosh Movie” was executive produced by Brett Boutier, Joe Davola, Barry Blumberg, and Shauna Palin. AwesomenessTV chief Brian Robbins served as producer.
The film was partially shot at YouTube Space LA.
For Lionsgate, which has an equity stake in Defy Media, this is the latest deal to expand its reach in digital. The studio also has a first-look deal with another YouTube star, Freddie Wong and his Rocket Jump Studios, to create original, long-form content for online audiences, as well as a film project in the works with AwesomenessTV and YouTube pranksters The Janoskians.
“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,” said Lionsgate’s president of acquisitions & co-productions Jason Constantine in a statement. “We’re delighted to extend our relationship with the versatile and incredibly talented Brian Robbins, with whom we’re partnered on a range of film, television and digital properties, as well as to add one of Defy Media’s great digital properties to our roster.”
One of the most prolific content brands on YouTube, Smosh reaches a combined 30 million subscribers on the site across multiple channels. The comedy duo has also found success off platform, with a website that reaches 12 million monthly unique visitors and a slew of successful mobile games, apps, and music albums, according to Defy.
“The Smosh Movie” deal was negotiated for Lionsgate by Constantine, SVP of acquisitions Eda Kowan, and EVP of business & legal affairs for acquisitions and co-productions Wendy Jaffe. AwesomenessTV was repped by UTA.