As Jody Simon noted in his recent guest post, the streaming business has caused impactful shifts in the way Hollywood approaches theatrical film releases. For comedy writer-director and Saturday Night Live alum, Fred Wolf, releasing the sequel of cult classic “Joe Dirt” to the internet 14 years after the original premiered was a “super exciting idea.” But Wolf had no idea that “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” — the first ever made-for-digital sequel to a major motion picture — would nearly outpace the 2001 “white-trash” comedy, on Sony-owned streaming platform Crackle.
“Joe Dirt 2 is perfectly suited to the internet,” said Wolf, who directed the sequel and co-wrote both projects, with comedy comrade David Spade, who also plays the lead character — Joe Dirt. Within the first 5 days of its release on July 16, 2015, “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” garnered over 1 millions streams and over 2 million within the first two and a half weeks. Apply today’s average theater ticket price of roughly $10.00 and the sequel’s box office potential teeters upwards of $5 million in its first week, as compared to the 2001 gross box office revenue marked at $10 million, according to IMDB.
“I’ve been doing movies for 20 years now and it’s still in my system to look at the opening weekend. When you’re making a movie opening weekend is everything. It was for Joe Dirt [in 2001] but the afterlife is what made people sit up and really take notice. That afterlife is what we’ve tapped into on the internet. By those terms we actually did better than the first Joe Dirt did,” added Wolf.
The original Joe Dirt was distributed by Sony in just over 2500 theaters domestically. The picture has grossed over $25 million to date in the United States alone, just shy of the total budget for “The House Bunny” which Wolf directed in 2008.
Wolf also notes that having Sony as a distribution partner played a factor in getting “Beautiful Loser” made as the studio had originally picked up the sequel rights for theatrical distribution. After sitting for a time in pre-production limbo, as projects tend to do in the studio system, the more agile, ad-supported digital arm of Sony — Crackle — made an offer to Wolf and David Spade to have the movie stream as part of Crackle’s slate of original premium programming.
“It took us about a year to say yes but we thought this could be really fun to see what this “future” is like and do this [on the internet]. We wanted to try something new and it was a blast. Hopefully we see the sustainability of this and see where it keeps rolling.”