Trey Parker and Matt Stone appear to be entering the next phase of their somewhat unlikely rise from entertainment industry outsiders/shock comics to major power players. As first reported in this Sunday’s New York Times the South Park/Book of Mormon creators are forming their own production studio, to be called Important Studios, joining the rarefied realm of those few writers and directors who have the power and money to finance, produce, and distribute their own and others’ projects without partnering with one of the major entertainment conglomerates.
As Sean O’Neal points out on AV Club, putting South Park out for 15 years under the aegis of Viacom/Comedy Central seems to have resulted in little if any corporate meddling at all. The show gleefully attacked major political and religious figures with impunity. Still, Andrew Sullivan-like, the longtime best friends and creative partners seem to feel the need to go independent.
According to the Times report, the new venture will be financed primarily with approximately $300 million in revenue generated primarily from South Park and Book of Mormon. In addition to this eye-popping figure detailing the immense wealth that Parker and Stone have acquired while somehow still maintaining a schlubby everyman public persona, the piece also offers concrete numbers detailing the immense amount of money that Book of Mormon is still making.
The Book of Mormon,” one of the highest-grossing Broadway musicals in recent years, received nine Tony Awards in 2011 and has grossed more than $200 million.
That amount continues to grow because the New York production makes $1.6 million a week, according to the producers. A touring version of the show makes about $1.6 million a week, and another production in Chicago grosses $1.5 million a week. And the show is about to go into production in London.
Unsurprisingly, one of the first projects the new company is likely to produce is a film version of Book of Mormon. In the official press release for the new venture, Stone and Parker used the joke ““Having worked with several different studios over the years, we came to realize that our favorite people in the world are ourselves.” But because this is the United States of America and Parker and Stone are now extremely rich, all they needed to say, really, was “Whatever! I do what I want!”