While clean-cut skateboarder Tony Hawk was becoming a household name for completing the first 900-degree aerial spin, Australian rebels Tas and Ben Pappas were tearing up the skateboarding scene with raw talent and even rawer personalities. Vice Film's All This Mayhem, which will be released in theaters and on video-on-demand (VOD), documents the brothers' story.
"They didn't know how to interact with fans and everybody else," Vice executive creative director Danny Gabai explained. "They got caught up in this spiral of excess, drugs and partying, which ultimately ended up turning the '90s skate world. It's all part of the Vice culture."
This isn't Vice Films first release with a theatrical run—both Reincarnated and Heavy Metal in Baghdad made it to the big screen—but it's the first one in a while to have a robust push. All This Mayhem will be in 10 U.S. theaters starting Sept. 7 in Dallas, as well as on all VOD platforms, including Amazon, Xbox and DirecTV on Sept. 9.
The documentary will act as a launching point for a slate of other theatrical movies, including two full-length feature films: Somali pirate drama Fishing Without Nets in October and a black and white Iranian vampire movie called A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night in November. With each of its movies, Vice is building a stockpile of additional footage that it will feature on its digital channels to help with marketing.
It's clear the company wants to expand its footprint in the millennial space, and the recent $500 million investment infusion will help. Still, niche documentaries and art house films aren't exactly known as money-makers, so the decision to go wide with a theatrical release may seem strange. But FilmBuff, which handles the U.S. distribution for All This Mayhem, points out that screenings help bring the close-knit indie film community together and build buzz for the VOD release. (Koch will handle distribution in the U.K. while eOne leads Australian efforts.)
"The NYC premiere last week was packed with skaters, including guys who knew the Pappas brothers personally," FilmBuff CEO Janet Brown said. "It is a unique opportunity to share stories, relive memories together, etc. For us at FilmBuff, as well as the awesome team at Vice who we're releasing the film with, the physical events are also a really powerful way for us to activate our brands with our core audience of young, urban guys."
Gabai said Vice expects to make most of its revenue from VOD sales. After all, its audience is full of millennials who are glued to digital screens and accustomed to watching videos at their leisure—and the film topics are just what they've come to expect from the Brooklyn-based media company.
"Our audience is looking to us for unique content, and we're just as obsessed with these films as we are with content in our many channels. It’s awesome stuff we can’t see anywhere else and a good representation of our brand," Gabai said.