CollegeHumor has become a daily destination for Internet users looking for something funny to break up the monotony of their workday – but can the company parlay the ability to make web users laugh into big-screen success? That’s the motive behind the site’s announcement that they’re jumping into the film business. Are we witnessing the birth of the next National Lampoon?
The company has announced their first feature – a film entitled Coffeetown -- based on a script by Arrested Development writer-producer Brad Copeland. The LA Times also reports that Copeland will direct the comedy, which looks at a group of buddies who spend their off time in a local coffee shop. Copeland is comparing it to Cheers, but it sounds strangely reminiscent of Friends as well.
Copeland will oversee a group of up-and-coming talents in the cast, including Glenn Howerton, Steve Little, Ben Schwartz, and musician Josh Groban. It’s slated to start shooting in February.
The jump to features is the next step in the gradual evolution of CollegeHumor, who started as a comedy website and soon spread across the Internet thanks to the power of networking. The site has spawned a TV show, several books, and MTV’s Pranked is currently hosted by two of the site’s biggest stars, Steeter Seidel and Amir Blumenfeld.
The goal is to take the brand to new heights, hopefully rivalling National Lampoon, which began life as a magazine before launching hits like National Lampoon’s Vacation in the 1980s. Ultimately, co-founder Ricky Van Veen sees huge potential for the CollegeHumor brand to expand. “We think we can leverage what we’ve done into longer things, including features and TV shows. There’s a market for high-quality long-form content that can go directly to consumers, and we’re well-positioned to do that.”
There’s been no decision yet as to whether Coffeetown – which has not secured distribution – will be viewable online, but Van Veen says the various sites in the CollegeHumor network will be promoting the film.
The nearly unlimited access and easy distribution system of the Internet could be a double-edged sword for the site as it moves forward, though. While CollegeHumor can launch its products with a built-in audience, the proliferation of other humor sites can potentially fracture that audience. CH appears to be making the right moves for a jump to the big screen – hiring a writer like Copeland seems to be a step in the right direction.