Echo Bridge orders off Web menu

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The sexy sitcom "Soup of the Day" never made it onto any of the TV network schedules. But the series, about a guy with three girlfriends, has been a big hit on the Internet. It has gotten 9 million online views since its launch in May, with a series of three- to eight-minute webisodes posted to YouTube, Break.com and other viral video sites.

Now, "Soup" will have its day on DVD, becoming what is believed to be only the second of the new wave of Internet serials picked up by a home video distributor. Echo Bridge Home Entertainment will release a full-length feature film version of the series Feb. 6 in a decked-out DVD ($19.95) that includes all 19 original webisodes, bloopers and deleted scenes, filmmaker commentary, cast interviews and a never-before-seen alternate ending.

Call it the ultimate convergence of new and old media.

"I watch my 15-year-old, and it seems to be that increasingly programming is being acquired in bite-size pieces," Echo Bridge president Tim Clott said. "Webisodes are primary to that, and the more we can tap into that, the better. Even if it's early on, it's going to happen."

This year, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the pioneering Internet serial "Broken Saints" in an elegant DVD boxed set. During its three-year, 24-episode Internet run, "Saints" attracted 5 million viewers and several prestigious awards, including the Audience Award for Online Animation at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.

Scott Zakarin, "Soup's" director, producer, and co-writer, calls the film and the original series "audience-empowered relationship entertainment." Internet fans interacted with the characters through social blogging on MySpace, he said.

Accordingly, the marketing campaign for the DVD will be focused on the Internet.

Clott said that beyond the DVD, his company is helping Zakarin's Iron Sink Media "with a bundle of rights." Ironically, one of the goals is to get "Soup," the cutting-edge Internet serial, onto TV.
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