EXCLUSIVE: The online network and content creator is exploring theatrical distribution avenues as it builds an ambitious film business following the stunning social success last year of Expelled.
Kelly Day, chief digital officer at the company owned 75% by DreamWorks Animation and 25% by Hearst, broke the news on Thursday to attendees at the two-day Stream Market conference in Santa Monica.
“Theatrical is something we’re very interested in,” Day said. “We did a one-week theatrical release [on Expelled] but the goal of that was about building buzz.”
Day continued: “We’re definitely feeling our audience is underserved theatrically and wants to go and see movies. At some point we probably will go down that path; we’re just thinking about the best and right ways to get there. Right now we love tapping into the fanbase around the talent.”
Expelled (pictured), which will be the subject of a case study in a later Stream session, stars Vine personality Cameron Dallas and became the number one social film of 2014.
The high school comedy debuted on iTunes in December four months after it got the production greenlight from Awesomeness TV and beat Guardians Of The Galaxy to top spot, holding on to number one for four weeks.
The film generated 15bn social impressions and trended on Twitter 23 times. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment handled the US release in all media.
“Over the next 18 months we are going to do 12 more feature films,” Day said. “We have five coming out this year and we just announced a slate deal with YouTube. [The films] will have a seven-day advertiser VOD window on YouTube and then they will come down and we will distribute across EST and more traditional platforms.”
The slate includes Smosh: The Movie starring A-list YouTubers Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox and the in-production comedy Shovel Buddies based on Jason Mark Hellerman’s Black List script.
In a wide-ranging talk that covered a content supply deal with the new Verizon Wireless OTT platform and the upcoming Awestruck TV channel aimed at “underserved” younger mothers, Day also looked beyond US borders.
“International is an enormous focus for us,” she said, adding that Awesomeness TV has “this big MCN [multi-channel network] outside the US with about 45,000 channels.”
The company sees growth potential in the UK, Brazil, Australia, Turkey, Vietnam and Thailand and of course is in “early” discussions over China. The first announcements on this subject could come in late 2015 / early 2016.