CollegeHumor, the site best known for quirky videos and web series, is preparing to release its first feature-length film next week, according to the Los Angeles Times. The film, titled Coffee Town, will be available Tuesday on iTunes, Amazon, PlayStation, and other on-demand platforms. The movie was written and directed by Brad Copeland, best known for his screenwriting on Arrested Development and Wild Hogs, and stars Josh Groban, Glenn Howerton (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights).
Coffee Town marks a bold move for CollegeHumor and Barry Diller's IAC, which bought a majority stake in the website in 2006. The film won't see a wide theatrical release, and has been marketed exclusively through CollegeHumor's social media outlets, rather than TV commercials or traditional advertising. The idea, according to CollegeHumor co-founder Ricky Van Veen, is to leverage the site's built-in web audience, most of whom are within the young and web-savvy demographic that film and TV studios covet.
"'Coffee Town' can find an audience without those bells and whistles."
"We think that there are some movies that need to buy a lot of TV ads and be in 3,000 theaters to be successful," CollegeHumor co-founder Ricky Van Veen told the Los Angeles Times. "But something like Coffee Town we believe can find an audience without those bells and whistles."
Diller and IAC are no stranger to unconventional media, having launched the controversial Aereo web television service last year. The service, which captures over-the-air TV transmissions and streams them online, has drawn sharp rebuke and lawsuits from major networks. Coffee Town isn't nearly as audacious in scope, though it does aim to subvert traditional feature-length distribution models, which typically rely on heavy marketing and box office revenue. (Coffee Town will be screened in select theaters, according to its website, before its official premiere at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal on July 27th.)
The low-budget indie centers around a young web manager (Howerton), who works from a cafe called Coffee Town. He also spends his time flirting with a Coffee Town waitress (Palicki), and butting heads with the shop's barista, played by Groban. Things get complicated once Howerton's friends learn that the shop will be converted into a high-end restaurant, inspiring them to fake a crime in order to derail the plan.
"I guess the movie everyone was thinking of is Office Space," Howerton told the Times. "It's about people who are good friends doing some not-so-good — but hopefully very funny — things."