NEW YORK – The next batch of painful "Jackass" stunts is coming to a computer screen near you.
The first two films -- spun off from the former MTV series -- co-starred Johnny Knoxville and his gang of gross-out pranksters as they performed stunts to the delight of their youthful fans. But for the sequel "Jackass 2.5," the dirty daredevils pull a new stunt: bypassing the movie theater entirely.
"Jackass 2.5" will instead be released to the Internet. The feature -- which combines unreleased footage from "Jackass Number Two" and new content -- was announced Thursday as a joint venture between Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures and MTV Networks.
"It's the first broadband movie ever distributed by a major studio," said Thomas Lesinski, President of Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment.
Blockbuster Inc. will present "Jackass 2.5" free of charge at www.blockbuster.jackassworld.com beginning Dec. 19 through Dec. 31; on Dec. 26, DVDs of the film will be available for purchase on the site and at major retailers, as well as for rent at Blockbuster stores and the company's Web site. The film will also be available for download at iTunes, Amazon.com and other sites -- at a price.
In lieu of box-office sales, the venture expects to make money from DVD sales, downloads and embedded ads online -- the latter being exactly the kind of new-media revenue stream that Hollywood writers are striking to get a piece of. While that wouldn't necessarily apply to "Jackass 2.5" because it didn't require writers, the marketing strategy is an example of what writers expect to see more of in the future.
Lesinski said the nature of "Jackass 2.5" made it a natural to try out on this new form of distrubution.
"When this idea first came up, it was clear that `Jackass' had a lot of potential on the Internet," Lesinski said. "First of all, the demographics are just right. And, if you go on to Youtube today, you can see there's lots and lots of (people) doing stunts ... a lot of those people are just copying what the `Jackass' guys developed a long time ago."
Lesinski said the movie's online distribution has potential to be "a game-changing model for Hollywood." But will those used to watching 5-minute YouTube vidos sit still for a longer film?
Lesinski thinks so -- and, at some point, he says, clips of various scenes will be ripe for viral video sharing.
MTV and Knoxville's Dickhouse Productions will continue jackassworld.com, re-launching it Feb. 9 as "the official home of all things jackass," to include interactive features including blogs, but not user-solicited stunts or pranks.