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‘Ricky Stanicky’ Comedy From Peter Farrelly Acquired by Amazon

The R-rated farce will star Zac Efron, John Cena and Jermaine Fowler

Prime Video has taken the global distribution rights to the latest film from Oscar-winning director Peter Farrelly. “Ricky Stanicky” will be the “Green Book” director’s first R-rated comedy since “Hall Pass” in early 2011; his brother and ’90s-era co-director Bobby Farrelly will not be involved. The picture will star Zac Efron, John Cena and Jermaine Fowler, and will begin production this month in Australia. 

The picture concerns three friends who invent a fictional character to avoid unwanted situations but then must hire an actor to portray that fabricated friend when their respective significant others start to smell a rat. Producers include Paul Currie of Footloose Productions and Thorsten Schumacher of Rocket Science in association with John Jacobs of Smart Entertainment. The screenplay was penned by Farrelly, Brian Jarvis and Jim Freeman from an original spec script by Jeff Bushnell and Steve Oedekerk.  

“We are excited to embark on this new project with comedy legend Peter Farrelly,” said Amazon and MGM Studios Head Jennifer Salke. “With Peter’s expertise and what are sure-to-be hilarious performances from our stellar cast led by Zac Efron, John Cena, and Jermaine Fowler, our Prime Video viewers around the world are in store for a bit of mischief and a lot of laughs.” 

“I’m very grateful to Amazon, as well as Paul Currie, Thorsten Schumacher, and John Jacobs, for finally bringing Ricky Stanicky to life,” said Farrelly. “This has been a dream project of mine for many years but to end up with a cast this crazy good makes the wait more than worthwhile.” 

The Farrelly Brothers roared onto the scene with “Kingpin” and “Dumb and Dumber” as trendsetting dynamos known for mixing unapologetic gross-out humor and – at least with “There’s Something About Mary” and “Me, Myself and Irene — sentimental warm-and-fuzzy narratives. The former was a monster hit in the summer of 1998, earning $369 million worldwide theatrically to become what is still one of the biggest-grossing R-rated comedies ever.  

However, save for the critically panned but $169 million-grossing “Dumb and Dumber To” in 2014, the Farrelly brothers’ brand of comedy mostly fell out of favor by the mid-2000s amid the rise of Judd Apatow’s improv-heavy, arrested development-centric comedy melodramas. As has often been the case in the streaming era, something that a generation or two ago would have been a big deal in the theatrical marketplace is now trying to reassert itself as a major event in the streaming pipeline. 

The Amazon Original Movie will stream on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide at release. The production was attracted to Victoria through the Victorian Screen Incentive and the Regional Location Assistance Fund. Meanwhile, Bobby Farrelly’s “Champions,” starring Woody Harrelson as a former minor-league basketball coach ordered to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities, opens theatrically on March 10 courtesy of Universal.