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YouTube stars Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox are taking their SMOSH comedy channel to the big screen with the help of Lionsgate, which has acquired worldwide distribution rights to The SMOSH Movie.
A co-production of Defy Media and DreamWorks Animation’s Awesomeness TV, The SMOSH Movie will be an extension of Padilla and Hecox’s YouTube channel, which has more than 18 million subscribers. Penned by Eric Falconer (Blue Mountain State) and directed by Alex Winter (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), the film begins when an embarrassing photo of Padilla surfaces online ahead of his fifth high school reunion. He enlists Hecox to help him remove the video, and the pair end up being transported into an adventure through YouTube.
The SMOSH Movie will feature performances from YouTube stars such as Jenna Marbles, Grace Helbig and Shane Dawson. Also making appearances are professional wrestler Steve Austin and comedian Michael Ian Black.
“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,” Lionsgate’s president of acquisitions and co-productions Jason Constantine said in a statement.
Defy president Keith Richman tells The Hollywood Reporter that there were multiple bids for the film but that they ultimately settled on Lionsgate, a Defy investor, because they understand the digital world.
“Lionsgate has always been really thoughtful about understanding the digital space,” he says. “They also understand that not every movie is released in the same way. Having a partner who thinks a bit outside the box was attractive to us.”
Brett Bouttier, Joe Davola, Barry Blumberg, Shauna Phelan, Padilla and Hecox executive produced the project. AwesomenessTV CEO Brian Robbins also served as producer.
The deal was negotiated for Lionsgate by Constantine, senior vp acquisitions Edna Kowan and executive vp business and legal affairs for acquisitions and co-productions Wendy Jaffe. AwesomenessTV was represented by United Talent Agency.
Lionsgate also has a deal with AwesomenessTV for a film project based on YouTube pranksters The Janoskians, and Robbins is a producer on Lionsgate’s scripted series The Royals, which will premiere on E! next year.
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