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The Khoo-woo Reaches Hollywood
June 2, 2011 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Robert Khoo, the business whiz who took a chance on the web comic Penny Arcade and turned it into a media empire for its creators, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, has now extended his reach to Hollywood. Paramount has announced that its next animated film is in the works and will be based on Penny Arcade's single-page concept comic, "The New Kid."
posted by gilrain (72 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
This will be like Atlas Shrugged for internet comic geeks.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:14 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really really want to just FIAMO, but this line is grating at me like I'm about to be shredded parmessan:

"who took a chance on the web comic"

He pitched them. He wanted to make money with them so he pitched them something to the effect of "Let me work for you guys for 2 months for free to show you I can make you guys money."

The phrasing just so absolutely does not imply that -- like he was some benevolent philanthropist giving them seed money or something.

Look -- much love to Robert Khoo for helping those guys reap a bigger reward, and he is definitely a successful businessman, but that label implies that I took a chance on my last job by agreeing to go there and make widgets for them if they agreed to pay me.
posted by cavalier at 6:20 PM on June 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


cavalier: "I really really want to just FIAMO, but this line is grating at me like I'm about to be shredded parmessan:

"who took a chance on the web comic"

He pitched them. He wanted to make money with them so he pitched them something to the effect of "Let me work for you guys for 2 months for free to show you I can make you guys money."
"

I see your point. Hm. He left his successful job to work for free on something he was confident he could make work. I know it was a slam dunk in hindsight, but I feel like it still qualifies as a "risk". I could have phrased it better.
posted by gilrain at 6:24 PM on June 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


(But that's not really the story here anyway.)
posted by gilrain at 6:25 PM on June 2, 2011


Yeah, you know what, Comic book guy called me and told me my call out was lame. Performing work for no pay with the chance that it could fail could easily be called taking a chance. I'm sorry, man, I'm going to go shut up now.
posted by cavalier at 6:26 PM on June 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


It'd be neat if Khoo wrote a book about his process of making Penny Arcade profitable. Self publishing is/was uncharted territory, and the amount of success that he's taken it to is impressive.
posted by hellojed at 6:27 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Screw that. Make a movie based on the Automata series. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. That would have a lot more than retreaded Space Family Robinson shit.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:29 PM on June 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


Old'n'Busted : that's exactly what i was coming in here to say.
posted by radiosilents at 6:33 PM on June 2, 2011


Oh, wow - Gary Whitta is writing it. He's an Internet chum (well, he posts on one of the boards I hang out on).

Can someone who knows about films give an idea of how far along this project is? They've got the rights, and a writer - is that, like, 20% chance it'll actually get made?
posted by Sebmojo at 6:33 PM on June 2, 2011


I haven't read PA in yearrrs and I never really was their target demographic, but some part of is going "Eeeeeee!!" about this. Something coming from the Internet and becoming a Real Movie is incredibly exciting to me.
posted by MadamM at 6:35 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sebmojo: "Can someone who knows about films give an idea of how far along this project is? They've got the rights, and a writer - is that, like, 20% chance it'll actually get made?"

I'd be interested in this, too. All the news I've read has made it sound like a sure thing, but I don't know a ton about the industry.

I'm pretty excited they sold the rights, though, and think it's really promising that film companies looking for new material (Paramount just made Rango, which was original, good, and successful) are beginning to turn to the Internet and independent creators. Or at least did this time.
posted by gilrain at 6:37 PM on June 2, 2011


Automata was just a cover version of a few Top 10 storylines with everything that made that book amazing stripped out.
posted by emmtee at 6:38 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wish this had happened back when Penny Arcade was one of my favorite things in the world, and not after it had become a source of really uncomfortable ambivalence.

I loved The New Kid idea, though. A movie would be pretty cool.
posted by pts at 6:39 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of all the PA 'storylines' they pick the one that's been done by some Bruce Coville, Goosebumps, and other YA books?

Not the one about the robot PI? Or Cardboard Tube Samurai? Or the surreal cats? Hell as obnoxious as it is normal PA would make a decent movie. About time my generation got its 'Clerks'.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:41 PM on June 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


[folks? maybe don't pre-doom this thread? thank you?]
posted by jessamyn at 6:44 PM on June 2, 2011


Yet Khoo didn't throw his support to "Kris and Scott's the Scott and Kris Show", requiring the guys behind PVP and Chainsaw Suit (who share office space with PA) to go to Kickstarter where they raised $50,000 in 4 days. Kickstarter also funded an animated version of the sincerely obnoxious but wonderfully drawn Least I Could Do to the tune of $75,000 in 7 days. (These were two of the fastest Kickstarter fundraisers EVER) And don't forget the success of the Machine of Death project, now working on Volume 2 and headed by the Wondermark guy and Dinosaur Comics guy. There is a lot of money out there for webcomics creators... to do something other than webcomics.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:44 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this the part where I mention the high concept for this is basically ripped off from Rebecca Ore's Becoming Alien?

or are we just going to keep rehashing the thread we did 4 months ago?

Further, that article is not so great. Like, what is up with the second to last paragraph?

The Mighty, one of the few titles that was allowed to escape from parent company Warner Bros., which normally handles any screen adaptations.


Yo, I your sentence fragment has no discernible significance within the overall article, dawg.
posted by nanojath at 6:47 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


So is this going to be like their regular strips that require their blog explanation to make any sense?
posted by inturnaround at 7:10 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't read PA in yearrrs

Here's what amounts to a 'best-of' (self-linky, sorry)
posted by Sebmojo at 7:13 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


So far the absolute sum of the published content is 'kid flies from planet to planet with his dad', so no.

It's got a very Golden Age sci fi short story feel to it actually. Almost certainly the least 'Penny Arcadey' thing they've ever done, which might not be accidental.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:14 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish I could still say that I was excited about something like this, but during the entire Dickwolves deblace watching Gabe go out of his way to be as hurtful as possible, and even keeping the joke going by drawing a vaginawolf at PAX East, I can't really get too excited about it. They did what they did, and their association with any further projects instead of getting me excited anymore, now feels tainted.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:40 PM on June 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


So movies about comic book characters have now moved beyond superheroes and to single-page webcomics? Interesting.
posted by MHPlost at 7:48 PM on June 2, 2011


Did they ever turn that one into a multi-page story? They did it with the story about the kids fighting the monster in the woods, and the one about the robot detective.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:56 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If we're lucky, this will be a funny movie about familiar things in a new setting, rife with Penny Arcade wit.

If we're really lucky, it'll be another North.
posted by kafziel at 8:10 PM on June 2, 2011


Something coming from the Internet and becoming a Real Movie is incredibly exciting to me.

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell became a movie too: I wish the PA guys exactly the level of success that film enjoyed.
posted by gladly at 8:17 PM on June 2, 2011


Sebmojo: "Can someone who knows about films give an idea of how far along this project is? They've got the rights, and a writer - is that, like, 20% chance it'll actually get made?"

Closer to 2%. Closer still to 0.0002%.

Of course, they could just tack those thirteen short lines of dialogue onto any leftover family space romps they've got lying around and poop it out by 2013.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:17 PM on June 2, 2011


Closer to 2%. Closer still to 0.0002%.

Thought so. Still, at least some good people will be getting some work.

Frankly there's so little in the one-pager, any Penny Arcade connection will probably be pretty notional.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:19 PM on June 2, 2011


At least it's not Lookouts.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:31 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it's more likely that Jerry was approached and asked to write a treatment based on the one-page. Substance!
posted by tmt at 8:54 PM on June 2, 2011


They must have done some more work expanding the concept before the studio bought it. Probably didn't publish it on the site, though.
posted by empath at 8:56 PM on June 2, 2011


If I were out shopping for a concept, I might prefer one that hadn't been developed too fully yet out public.

Not that there's anything new under the sun, but if there's no established story line there's no nerd rage to contend with.
posted by device55 at 8:58 PM on June 2, 2011


I'm really kind of with ShawnStruck on this. Even as someone who has bought PA T-shirts, contributed to Child's Play, cited the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory countless times, and even used the desktop based on the concept strip after "The New Kid"... I'm pretty much done with them. I'm not going to rehash any part of that argument, but what I took away from that was that they were big gaming culture tycoons who seemed virulently offended even by the possibility that there might be serious differences of opinion regarding the context of their work. Their latest strip has to do with the exceedingly long production cycle of Duke Nukem Forever, which in gaming culture terms ranks with jokes about airplane food and how black people talk like this.

So, they've got some kind of production deal, based on a single strip that's the equivalent of a very well executed cocktail napkin sketch. Great! No, seriously! Assuming that it survives beyond Paramount's immediate need for content post-DreamWorks, perhaps they'll take some time off and maybe even announce a hiatus for the strip. I sincerely think that they can use it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:01 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Did they ever turn that one into a multi-page story?

No, that was all of that that ever showed up at the site.
posted by nanojath at 9:09 PM on June 2, 2011


I'm not going to rehash any part of that argument, but what I took away from that was that they were big gaming culture tycoons who seemed virulently offended even by the possibility that there might be serious differences of opinion regarding the context of their work.

While I'd agree they're not at their shining best right now, this is just silly.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:24 PM on June 2, 2011


They've got the rights, and a writer - is that, like, 20% chance it'll actually get made?

My rule of thumb (which has served me well) is that the chances of a thing actually getting produced and making it all the way to the screen are - no matter who is saying what - 0%, right up to the point where the first camera starts rolling, at which point, the chances rise to 100%.

Hollywood is all gas and talk and wheeling dealing and hot air, but once a camera starts burning through money in a non-refundable way, a mighty Machine awakens, that will rearrange the universe if it has to, to ensure that that money isn't going to be lost.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:46 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I only support this if it means a Twisp and Catsby movie is more likely to happen.

And the exuberance?
Insubstantial!
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:50 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I only support this if it means a Twisp and Catsby movie is more likely to happen.

And the exuberance?
Insubstantial!


It won't be screened for critics. Ever.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:52 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Honestly, 90% of gaming news is inaccurate, hyperbolic, or sexist. At least PA's comes with an amusing cartoon and some decent writing attached.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:53 PM on June 2, 2011


I like PA but I don't actually see this as very exciting. Unless I totally read this wrong, Holkins isn't writing the script or anything like that. Essentially the deal here is that the PA guys had a concept idea for a story (which as pointed out has been used many times before) and they will, essentially, be paid a bunch of money for other people to write it and make a movie out of it. Oh, and this is all basically contingent on Paramout not just renewing a contract with Dreamworks, which is probably going to happen.

.....yay?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:05 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Their latest strip has to do with the exceedingly long production cycle of Duke Nukem Forever, which in gaming culture

... is extremely current as DNF will be shipping soon and EB Games has just announced that they will honor 12 year old pre-orders, provided the receipt can be produced.
posted by Justinian at 10:42 PM on June 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of scratching my head at this - it really isn't a very good comic.
posted by Artw at 11:01 PM on June 2, 2011


once a camera starts burning through money in a non-refundable way, a mighty Machine awakens, that will rearrange the universe if it has to, to ensure that that money isn't going to be lost.

That mighty Machine you refer to is the completion bond company. Once production begins, it's the completion bond company's job to ensure that the movie finishes, come hell or high water. But up until then? Yeah, 0%.
posted by incessant at 11:04 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of scratching my head at this - it really isn't a very good comic.

It was never meant to stand on its own. That was one of three comics that they produced, all being the very introductorimost of longer storylines, which would then later get expanded on, depending on interest.
posted by kenko at 11:06 PM on June 2, 2011


TAG Blog's take on it - "So, if the Paramount/DWA marriage is soon to go on the rocks, Paramount wants (needs?) a "Plan B" to stay in the animated feature business. So what we're looking at is Plan B, yes?"
posted by unliteral at 11:33 PM on June 2, 2011


Automata was just a cover version of a few Top 10 storylines with everything that made that book amazing stripped out.

Maybe, sure, if you stripped out all the superhero stuff? OTOH, maybe I'm crazy here but that strip looks exactly like Caves of Steel and it's sequels. Like they basically just read the books and thought "hey, why don't we just do it because most of our readership is too young to know any better."
posted by P.o.B. at 12:01 AM on June 3, 2011


"Yet Khoo didn't throw his support to "Kris and Scott's the Scott and Kris Show", requiring the guys behind PVP and Chainsaw Suit (who share office space with PA) to go to Kickstarter where they raised $50,000 in 4 days."

Wait, what? He didn't "throw his support" because he didn't fund it out of his own pocket? Or because he didn't fund it with Penny Arcade Inc money?

The show is on PATV, which is run by Penny Arcade Inc, which is run by Khoo.

Why the hell would he need to fund it anyway, if Kurtz and Straub can raise 50 grand in 4 days?
posted by unigolyn at 12:46 AM on June 3, 2011


Make a movie based on the Automata series

Or better yet, the retro-novelisation.
posted by Grangousier at 12:59 AM on June 3, 2011


It won't be screened for critics. Ever.

well it's not for them...
posted by russm at 1:10 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yet Khoo didn't throw his support to "Kris and Scott's the Scott and Kris Show", requiring the guys behind PVP and Chainsaw Suit (who share office space with PA) to go to Kickstarter where they raised $50,000 in 4 days."

Mike and Jerry are the creative machine of a company that employs about a dozen people, runs an absolutely monstrous charity drive every year, puts on two (!) gaming conventions, and in general is just a serious gaming business machine.

Kris and Scott are two webcomic artists. Why the fuck would anyone want to watch a television show about them?

(Not to mention that I sincerely doubt that Kurtz can be on camera for an entire season of shows without shoving his foot well inside his esophagus. I mean, up until Dickwolfgate, Mike seemed like an avuncular dude, especially on camera. I have no such misconceptions about Kurtz.)
posted by TypographicalError at 2:53 AM on June 3, 2011


Kris and Scott are two webcomic artists. Why the fuck would anyone want to watch a television show about them?

Their Blamimations are pretty funny and when they get together they tend to come up with funny shit.

Not to mention that I sincerely doubt that Kurtz can be on camera for an entire season of shows without shoving his foot well inside his esophagus.

It's going to be edited.
posted by PenDevil at 3:30 AM on June 3, 2011


At least it's not Lookouts.

No kidding. I clicked with potential horror that it might be that. New Kid could be OK.
posted by DU at 4:46 AM on June 3, 2011


Man, the Internet Does Not Forget. You make a mistake like the Dickwolf fiasco and nothing you ever do can ever be good again. All your future works are tainted from now unto eternity. Should you try to climb out from the pit of despair, the legions of Internet Memory will be there to kick you back down. "You have not supped on enough ashes," they shall say, their voices echoing behind their masks of scorn, "Your clothes are not yet tatters. Down, down, down you must remain." Then their hobnailed boots will grind into your fingers and you will fall, fall, fall.

If this movie actually gets made, I'm looking forward to watching it with my son, provided we can make it past the picket lines.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:49 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


... is extremely current as DNF will be shipping soon and EB Games has just announced that they will honor 12 year old pre-orders, provided the receipt can be produced.

By the same token, airplane food jokes are still extremely current, because airlines are still serving food and it's still pretty bad. Doesn't mean it's that original or clever.

You make a mistake like the Dickwolf fiasco and nothing you ever do can ever be good again.

Well, at least they didn't drag it out by producing merch commemorating it, or making a point of bringing it up at more than one PAX... oh, wait.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:05 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, in their case the mistake was pretty long and dragged out. I'm not defending their actions there.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:08 AM on June 3, 2011


Man, the Internet Does Not Forget.

Someone should put together the list of all the people/organizations and the never-ending grudges people have against them.
posted by smackfu at 5:39 AM on June 3, 2011


(OTOH, people generally don't talk about boycotting Amazon over one-click anymore, so maybe the internet does forget!)
posted by smackfu at 5:40 AM on June 3, 2011


Are you guys joking? The Dickwolf thing lasted for literally months, and they never apologized for antagonizing people further (which is what they needed to apologize for; the original comic might or might not have required an apology, but their subsequent behavior was clearly wrong) so much as they just... stopped talking about it. It's clear from that behavior that they have some trouble taking feminism seriously, and I can't imagine how you'd blame someone for tuning them out for that.
posted by TypographicalError at 5:49 AM on June 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't imagine how you'd blame someone for tuning them out for that.

It's more about the "remember people, this is why I am tuning them out" comments.
posted by smackfu at 6:13 AM on June 3, 2011


It was never meant to stand on its own. That was one of three comics that they produced, all being the very introductorimost of longer storylines, which would then later get expanded on, depending on interest.

All three of which are not very good.
posted by Artw at 6:15 AM on June 3, 2011


Something coming from the Internet and becoming a Real Movie is incredibly exciting to me.

....Hasn't that happened before, though? Or am I mistaken?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:56 AM on June 3, 2011


Kris and Scott are two webcomic artists. Why the fuck would anyone want to watch a television show about them?

I've literally gotten into multiple arguments with Kurtz on cartoonist boards about the most petty, juvenile whines of his, and yet I'll be the first to say he's hilarious and engaging to listen to when he's not being a complete dickwad. Likewise, it's also really engaging to hear his thoughts on comics and the industry in general when his comments aren't related to how every other artist on the planet sucks save for him and the guys he pays rent to.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:58 AM on June 3, 2011


I've literally gotten into multiple arguments with Kurtz on cartoonist boards about the most petty, juvenile whines of his, and yet I'll be the first to say he's hilarious and engaging to listen to when he's not being a complete dickwad. Likewise, it's also really engaging to hear his thoughts on comics and the industry in general when his comments aren't related to how every other artist on the planet sucks save for him and the guys he pays rent to.

But the current structure of PATV is not about Jerry and Mike being engaging -- it is, in their words, "A program which catalogues the victories and secret shames of the .jpeg business." And Kurtz, though he produces webcomics for a living, simply hasn't created the sort of business around it that PA has. I don't see the potential in the Kurtz/Straub pairing, despite the fact that they had a very funny episode of PATV to themselves.
posted by TypographicalError at 8:07 AM on June 3, 2011


Man, the Internet Does Not Forget. You make a mistake like the Dickwolf fiasco and nothing you ever do can ever be good again. All your future works are tainted from now unto eternity. Should you try to climb out from the pit of despair, the legions of Internet Memory will be there to kick you back down. "You have not supped on enough ashes," they shall say, their voices echoing behind their masks of scorn, "Your clothes are not yet tatters. Down, down, down you must remain." Then their hobnailed boots will grind into your fingers and you will fall, fall, fall.


This thread isn't about Dave Sim. Stay focused.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:10 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


right up to the point where the first camera starts rolling, at which point, the chances rise to 100%.

I don't think it's 100% even then. I've definitely heard of more than one movie not making it to the screen even with film in the can.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:22 AM on June 3, 2011


despite the fact that they had a very funny episode of PATV to themselves.

They've had two episodes.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:28 AM on June 3, 2011


By the same token, airplane food jokes are still extremely current, because airlines are still serving food and it's still pretty bad. Doesn't mean it's that original or clever.

I really don't think the analogy holds. The release of DNF is a big deal and PA is about gaming. It would be strange if they didn't comment on it. Like if Origins resurrected itself and put out a new Ultima game and PA never so much as mentioned it.

There are legitimate criticisms to be made of the humor in PA, but I don't think "stale and unoriginal humor" as evidencd by the fact that they referenced DNF is one of those criticisms. It seems like scrambling for justifications for disliking PA. Except PA can be something you dislike without their humor also being dated and tired. Hell, if anything the comic linked is making fun of the very fact that the last time DNF seemed relevant it was practically when there were parachute pants and Kathy Ireland posters. The title of the strip is "Archaeology" for gods sake.

But what do I know, virtually all of the webcomics people praise on Metafilter make me go "what are they thinking?".
posted by Justinian at 10:03 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, YMMV and all that. I found the DNF joke tired because of having seen lists like this a few years ago (previously on the blue, in fact); it even includes a couple of yellowing pre-order receipts. As for the strip in general, today's offering is a joke about how the presentation of the incarnation of Death in a game that I've never heard of is somewhat cliched. Going in the other direction, we have: people are still going to Blockbuster; a joke about Gabe's penis having RPG stats; a game having poor gameplay instructions; a joke about Kickstarter (based on the idea that people who give money to Kickstarter projects are fools--put that in the context of this thread); a joke about planking; a joke about poor dental hygeine; a joke about people being rude on the internet; a joke about people not playing their class correctly in an MMORPG; a joke about Yelp... I trust that I've made my point.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:32 AM on June 3, 2011


Your point was... they make jokes about stuff?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:38 AM on June 3, 2011


More that, if you're going to do a webcomic in the one-liner mode, as opposed to the serial-storytelling mode, you need to keep it fresh, rather than recycling tropes from their own strip and any random forum or discussion board. As I noted above, it may be time for them to take a hiatus--I doubt that they need to do it for the money, at this point.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:55 AM on June 3, 2011


Yeah, I mean I think I could pretty much go through any webcomic you care to name and reduce the humor to a boring sounding description. Except the webcomics which reduce themselves to boring sounding descriptions because they tend not to be about anything.
posted by Justinian at 10:56 AM on June 3, 2011


I'm not sure, but I think Halloween Jack might not like Penny Arcade. Surely this means they must take a break.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:59 AM on June 3, 2011


Ah, Mike has posted about the movie now with a little more detail:
Yesterday it was announced that our comic idea “The New Kid” has been optioned by Paramount with the intention of turning it into an animated feature length movie! I got a lot of questions yesterday via the Twitters and honestly I don’t know much more than that. Here’s what I can say:

-Tycho and I worked very closely with Gary to flesh out the world of the New Kid and develop a movie plot.

-Gary is a friend of ours and a very talented writer. This is not the first time we have trusted him with one of our babies. You might remember that he wrote an amazing Automata storyline not too long ago.

- This does not mean that you will see the New Kid in theatres next summer. Paramount has it now and they will decide if and when to make the movie. Obviously this is a HUGE deal for us and my fingers are crossed that this thing picks up steam right away but you never know. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you guys updated.
posted by gilrain at 1:57 PM on June 3, 2011


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