YouTube has acquired the rights to Joseph Kahn's comedy-drama Bodied. Centered on the world of competitive rap battle, Bodied tells the satirical story of Adam Merkin, a progressive grad student who accidentally takes the rap game by storm, causing widespread outrage in the process. Bodied debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September of last year to widespread acclaim. The movie won the T.I.F.F.'s "Midnight Madness" People's Choice award and went on to earn a 95% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and a stream of positive reviews from critics.
As well as Kahn, who has directed music videos for music artists as diverse as Taylor Swift, Papa Roach and Aerosmith, Bodied was produced by international superstar Eminem, Def Jam Records CEO Paul Rosenberg, Adi Shankar (Dredd, Castlevania) and Jil Hardin. The movie was penned by none other than former rap battler Kid Twist, now going by the name of Alex Larsen and stars Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Walter Perez, Shoniqua Shondai and Rory Uphold. Bodied also features appearances from the likes of Dumbfoundead and Charlamagne Tha God.
Bodied has now officially been picked up by YouTube's streaming service, YouTube Red. In a press release, the company announced a sneak preview will be held at the forthcoming Sundance Film Festival, with YouTube set to expand their presence at the iconic event where they will also be sponsoring the "shorts" program for the sixth year running. The movie will then go on to have a theatrical release this year, before being available for streaming on YouTube Red at some point in 2018.
With a cast and crew reading like a who's who in the world of rap and hip-hop, Bodied certainly isn't lacking in credibility and the critical reaction thus far would seem to suggest that Kahn has tackled the world of rap battles in a way that is both authentic and entertaining - something many cinema-goers wouldn't have seen since the release of 8 Mile back in 2002. Although Kahn's career has been primarily within the realm of music videos thus far, efforts such as Muse's "Knights of Cydonia" have an undoubted cinematic quality that suggests a transition to the big screen would not be a difficult one. Interestingly, Kahn was also director of the short fan-made movie Power/Rangers that proved highly popular on YouTube.
Of course, while YouTube is the leading platform for music videos, short films and cats doing weird stuff, it is still developing as a genuine, paid streaming service to rival the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. As such, Bodied may not attract as large an audience as many would say it deserves, particularly on an international level, but equally, perhaps the acquisition of hot properties such as this will help YouTube Red grow in popularity.
More news on Bodied as it arrives.