LOS ANGELES - Paramount Pictures will release a digital sequel to its surprise hit "Jackass 3D," after weighing a full-blown theatrical release.
"Jackass 3.5" will launch in March as a series of short online videos, each less than 10 minutes in length and featuring a single over-the-top stunt by Johnny Knoxville and his crew. One or two videos per week will be released for a few months. By summer, Paramount will stitch the videos together into a full-length "film" of 80 or 90 minutes that will be released on digital platforms and DVD.
Paramount pushed a similar Internet release strategy in 2006 with "Jackass 2.5," a sequel to the "Jackass 2" movie. After "Jackass 3D" had a surprisingly strong $50.4-million opening weekend at the box office, however, studio executives briefly considered turning "Jackass 3.5" into a traditional movie before ultimately adopting the Internet plan.
Most of the footage for "Jackass 3.5" was shot simultaneously with the segments used in the 3-D movie. However, Paramount also produced new scenes in Europe in October while the "Jackass" cast and crew, including Knoxville, Stephen "Steve-O" Glover and director Jeff Tremaine were promoting the feature film there.
"The content created by the Jackass team is ideal for digital distribution because it's a series of stunts that are then collected into long-form," said Paramount Digital Entertainment President Thomas Lesinski, who is overseeing the project.
Paramount spent several million dollars to make "Jackass 3.5," which is currently being edited and split into short segments. The studio plans to finalize a deal with a distributor such as Hulu or YouTube to premiere the short videos online starting in March with advertising support. Several days after they premiere, the videos will become available as paid downloads from Apple's iTunes and other digital stores.
Since "Jackass 2.5," Paramount has made several digital series that were subsequently collected into movie form, including the horror film "Circle of 8" and "LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers."