The trailer for NCBUniversal’s The King of Staten Island dropped today, featuring Saturday Night Live cast breakout star Pete Davidson in the lead role, in a movie directed by Knocked Up and Trainwreck creator Judd Apatow. The movie is set for a fully digital release, as it debuts June 12 on PVOD.
Over his storied career, Judd Apatow has elevated a series of promising young comedy talents to their first major big-screen performance, including Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Amy Schumer and Kumail Nanjiani. This summer, Apatow directs Saturday Night Live breakout Pete Davidson in a bracing comedy about love, loss and laughter on Staten Island.
Scott (Pete Davidson) has been a case of arrested development ever since his firefighter father died when he was seven. He’s now reached his mid-20s having achieved little, chasing a dream of becoming a tattoo artist that seems far out of reach.
As his ambitious younger sister (Maude Apatow, HBO’s Euphoria) heads off to college, Scott is still living with his exhausted ER nurse mother (Oscar® winner Marisa Tomei) and spends his days smoking weed, hanging with the guys-Oscar (Ricky Velez, Master of None), Igor (Moises Arias, Five Feet Apart) and Richie (Lou Wilson, TV’s The Guest Book)-and secretly hooking up with his childhood friend Kelsey (Bel Powley, Apple TV+’s The Morning Show).
But when his mother starts dating a loudmouth firefighter named Ray (Bill Burr, Netflix’s F Is for Family), it sets off a chain of events that will force Scott to grapple with his grief and take his first tentative steps toward moving forward in life.
The trailer presents the movie as a coming-of-age dramedy for a young man named Scott in his mid-twenties, played by Davidson, a resident of Staten Island in real life and in the movie. Scott shares a crucial element of his backstory with Davidson, who co-wrote the script, in that both had fathers who were firefighters who died in the line of duty, with their deaths greatly affecting their son’s mental state well into their present age.
Scott lives a non-threatening existence with his doting mother, played by Marisa Tomei, where he smokes weed with friends all day and dreams of becoming a tattoo artist. Scott’s way of life is attacked when his mom starts dating a firefighter named Ray, played by Bill Burr, which prompts the young man to take a closer look at the profession that took his father away from him, and at his own life goals.
The movie also features an appearance by Steve Buscemi, who defends firefighters against Scott’s antagonistic viewpoint. The scene holds special meaning when you consider the fact that Buscemi is a firefighter in real life, and just like Davidon’s father, was one of the responders who were on the ground in the aftermath of 9/11 helping survivors.
The rest of the trailer comprises of small, intimate moments from Scott’s life as he struggles to live up to the expectations of those around him while trying to figure out where he wants to go in life. There are the comic scenes with underlying hints of bittersweet pathos that Apatow is famous for, indicating that the movie will ultimately lean more towards drama than comedy.
The film, with its harmless, slice-of-life approach and non-confrontational content, has unwittingly become the flashpoint for one of the biggest power struggles between studios and theater chains in history, directly as a result of its unremarkable nature.
Since Universal never expected the movie to be a huge moneymaker, they decided it was the perfect mid-budget test subject to release straight to digital to explore the possibilities of that revenue model. AMC, the owner of the biggest theater chains in the world, saw Universal’s new plans, starting with The King of Staten Island, to release some of their movies online instead of in theaters, as a threat to their business model, and consequently banned all future Universal movies from their theaters, a move that was supported by some other theater chains as well.
Now, by using the trailer to announce a PVOD release for The King of Staten Island, Universal has doubled down on its stand. How AMC responds, and how successful the movie becomes with a purely digital release, will forever reshape the entertainment industry and the way that people consume new films.