HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Travis Pastrana and his Nitro Circus crew premiered their new film "Nitro Circus The Movie 3D" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Wednesday, aka X Games Eve, before a private audience of action sports athletes and VIPs.
The film, which officially opens internationally on Aug. 8, was directed by Greg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle and produced by Godfrey Entertainment, Red Bull Media House, and Wasserman Media Group. It is the first of the popular Nitro Circus films -- previously straight-to-DVD affairs -- to get a theatrical release, and is the crew's first 3D production. The film is being distributed worldwide by ARC Entertainment.
"When everyone said, 'you guys can't do a movie,' they self-financed the film and gave all of us, and all of you guys, a chance to have a good time, travel the world with all our best friends, and do really, really dumb things," Pastrana said, thanking the filmmakers, co-producers, and distributors before the premiere as he introduced the film. "Epic make or epic fail, you're going to see a lot of epic."
Indeed: The film opens with a massive group session featuring more than a dozen freestyle motocross riders, dune buggy drivers and monster truck drivers in a chaotically choreographed dirt-jumping free-for-all that makes spectacular use of 3D camera technology -- so many vehicles are soaring through the air it's hard to keep track of them all. It then builds up to the 2011 Nitro Circus Live show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, with stops along the way in Utah, Pastrana's home compound in Maryland and the new Nitro City Action Sports Resort in Panama.
"Nitro Circus 3D" features a full cast of Nitro Circus regulars, including Pastrana, Godfrey, Rawle, "Streetbike Tommy" Passemante, "Special Greg" Powell, and "Nitro Girl" Jolene Van Vugt, as well as stunts by skier/BASE jumper Erik Roner, "wheelchair motocross" athlete Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham, and downhill mountain bike racer and freestyle rider Jim DeChamp, among others. In the epic fail camp: DeChamp broke several vertebrae and sustained severe head injuries in a car stunt gone wrong that crushed the roof in on DeChamp and co-pilot Streetbike Tommy. The crash is at the center of the film and serves as a reminder of exactly how risky much of the Nitro Circus crew's stock and trade can be.
Stunts in the film range from the inane -- double backflips on Big Wheel trikes, tow-rope launch ramp shenanigans over water that frequently end in blistering belly flops -- to the insane, like Roner's BASE jump in Panama, and an intentional re-creation of the time Pastrana accidentally rolled his rally car more than seven times during a race in Colorado.
Action sports luminaries including Ryan Sheckler, Rob Dyrdek, and Ken Block provide interview commentary throughout the film, as do Jeff Tremaine and Johnny Knoxville, creators of the Nitro Circus precursor, "Jackass."
"The stunts in 'Jackass' were always designed to fail," says Knoxville, in an interview clip explaining the distinction between the two similarly-spirited crews. "The difference is that if Nitro Circus stunts fail, people die."
That persistent possibility made financing and insuring the film a thankless task; in the end the film was co-produced by each of its stars and largely self-financed, with help from Pastrana's sponsors. When the crew ran into permitting problems for stunts that would have been illegal to perform anywhere in the United States, they packed up for Panama, where, apparently, such restrictions are more lax.
"This is something they said couldn't happen, and these guys around me made it happen," Pastrana said Wednesday, thanking his Nitro Circus team.
Pastrana will be competing in the X Games RallyCross event on Sunday, airing on ESPN and ESPN3D from 3 to 5 p.m. ET.