EXCLUSIVE: Hoping to follow in the wacky footsteps of National Lampoon, the digital-comedy company CollegeHumor is making a foray into the film business.
The firm has signed on to make a movie about thirtysomething underachievers called "Coffee Town," buying a script from former "Arrested Development" writer-producer Brad Copeland and hiring him to direct it.
A group of up-and-comers will star in the film, including Glenn Howerton (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), Steve Little (“Eastbound & Down”) and Ben Schwartz (“House of Lies”), along with singer Josh Groban, executives said. The low-budget movie, which is being financed by CollegeHumor, aims to begin shooting in February in Los Angeles.
Though known primarily for its slapstick Web videos across a network of sites, CollegeHumor has been branching out to other platforms. The company, which is owned by the Barry Diller-led IAC, had a short-lived MTV show and also has spun off several books. The current MTV series “Pranked,” which features user-submitted prank videos , is hosted by Streeter Seidell and Amir Blumenfeld, two CollegeHumor personalities.
The goal with “Coffee Town,” CollegeHumor co-founder Ricky Van Veen said, is to take advantage of the firm’s in-house talent as well as use its brand to reach into other media.
“We think we can leverage what we’ve done into longer things, including features and TV shows,” said Van Veen, noting that content on CollegeHumor sites has in some cases already evolved from shorts into half-hour episodes. “There’s a market for high-quality long-form content that can go directly to consumers, and we’re well-positioned to do that.”
He cited a paid Web special from Louis C.K. that has gained attention in the digital world as a profitable enterprise for its creator.
Van Veen said there have been no decisions made on whether to distribute “Coffee Town” online, though he did note that the site would be used to promote the film. “Coffee Town” does not yet have traditional theatrical distribution; it is expected to seek that, but other models are being considered as well, Van Veen said.
Centering on Will, a website manager (Howerton), and his friends who regularly drop in (Little and Schwartz), “Coffee Town” will look at a group of close-knit buddies in a familiar setting. “It’s a little like ‘Cheers,’” Copeland, who also wrote the 2008 Harley hit “Wild Hogs,” told 24 Frames. “They go about their day, but they always end up in the same place.” (Groban, sending up his own image, will star as a barista who wants to be a singer but is doomed by a lack of talent.)