YouTube Set to Premiere First Original Movies, PewDiePie Series

Scare PewDiePie - YouTube Red
Courtesy of Maker Studios

YouTube next week is set to launch its first exclusive programming — a test of how many customers will fork over $10 per month, the price of Netflix’s standard subscription plan, to watch movies and TV shows featuring the platform’s digital stars.

The video service on Feb. 10 will premiere three films and “Scare PewDiePie,” a reality-adventure series starring YouTube’s immensely popular Swedish game vlogger. Those will be available only to subscribers of YouTube Red, which provides ad-free viewing of all the site’s content as well as unlimited access to YouTube Music.

YouTube is betting that the new movies and series will help sway some portion of its billion-plus monthly users, accustomed to watching free videos for more than a decade, to pay for YouTube Red.

“The diverse, dynamic creators behind these films have already built massive audiences on YouTube, rivaling many cable shows,” Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original content, wrote in a blog post. “With YouTube Red Originals, we want to help them tell bigger and bolder stories that delight you, their fans.” The former head of MTV programming joined YouTube last year.

The three movies are: “A Trip to Unicorn Island,” a documentary about Lilly Singh (aka IISuperwomanII) on her global tour; “Dance Camp,” a musical teen drama from AwesomenessTV; and “Lazer Team,” a sci-fi action-comedy from Rooster Teeth and Fullscreen Films.

YouTube is making the originals available for no extra charge to subscribers of YouTube Red, currently launched only in the U.S., and also will let users worldwide purchase the films and TV series.

“Scare PewDiePie” stars Felix Kjellberg (aka PewDiePie), arguably YouTube’s biggest star with nearly 42 million subscribers. The series comes from Disney’s Maker Studios and the creator and exec producers of “The Walking Dead” at Skybound Entertainment. In the show PewDiePie, who is affiliated with Maker, encounters terrifying situations inspired by his favorite video games.

“A Trip to Unicorn Island,” from Judy McGrath’s Astronauts Wanted, follows Singh — who counts more than 7.7 million YouTube subscribers — on her recent 27-city global tour. Teen-targeted “Dance Camp,” patterned on the successful formula Disney established with made-for-TV hits like “High School Musical,” stars popular YouTuber Meg DeAngelis, actor-dancer Nadji Jeter (“Grown Ups”) and top Vine creator Jake Paul.

Rooster Teeth’s “Lazer Team,” financed in part by $2.48 million from fans on Indiegogo, debuted theatrically last weekend worldwide and notched $1 million in ticket pre-sales. The movie is about four small-town losers who stumble on an alien ship carrying a mysterious cargo, leading to a battle to save Earth from an all-powerful enemy.

YouTube also launched a new YouTube Red Originals channel, which will feature clips, teasers and trailers for upcoming series and movies.

YouTube’s belief that its original productions on YouTube Red will find an audience is based on shifts in how consumers, especially millennials, are watching entertainment. On the Monday earnings call of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said  the time people spent watching YouTube in the living room more that doubled in 2015, but he didn’t provide specific figures.

Other previously announced projects on YouTube Red’s originals slate include: “Sing It!,” a series from Fine Brothers Entertainment and Mandeville Films; a reality murder-mystery series starring YouTube star Joey Graceffa; “Single by 30,” a romantic drama series from Wong Fu Productions and New Form Digital; and “Fight of the Living Dead,” a reality show from Alpine Labs with popular YouTubers trapped in a zombie apocalypse.

Watch a promo video for the YouTube Red Originals premieres:

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  1. lakawak says:

    I just don’t get the appeal of PewDiePie. His schtick gets old after about 6 seconds. And then you quickly look around for sewing needles to jam into your ears. And when that is done, you kick yourself realizing that all you had to do was close the browser window and save yourself the horrific pain and hearing loss

  2. Rex says:

    SO MUCH of the content produced by nearly all the “stars” mentioned in this piece is NOT ORIGINAL. Oh sure, it appeals to millennials because they can’t see how much of it is simply recycled from older forms (which seems to be all this generation is about, sadly). Wong Fu productions, in particular, churns out the most predictable “dramas” on all of YouTube. Granted, their stuff LOOKS fantastic, and the performances are all quite good in a TV-show kind of way, but the stories and plots they tell, aside from refreshingly featuring Asian faces in principal roles, have all been told by previous generations in other mediums. Even if Single By 30 gets a series, it’s screamingly obvious how it will end because they never defy expectations in their work; they just prolong the inevitable the way American and especially Asian/Korean TELEVISION soaps have been doing for decades. Of course, your typical millennial wouldn’t know that because they have no interest in tracing the genesis of these forms in any way. Frankly, most YouTube “comedians” and “dramatists” — who largely come from this same generation — probably can’t be bothered either, since that would require acknowledging that they’re not doing anything truly new, just repackaging the same old plots and stories for callow youth. Only the delivery has truly changed.

    And while it may seem like I’m singling out Wong Fu because of their lean toward fictional narratives, most of the above can apply to virtually all YouTube “stars”.

    “Celebrity” will fade for all of these folks within a decade as the next generation or two move on to other things, so I suppose they’re wise to strike while the iron’s hot.

  3. Charbax says:

    YouTube Red needs to be renamed Google Unlimited, $10/month should also include ads-free Google Sites including Search, Gmail, Maps etc. it should include Unlimited Google Play Apps, Games, Movies, TV Shows and the Unlimited Google Music. Everything should be included for $10/month. Google AdSense should disable ads throughout all Adsense websites in the world for people who have subscribed. Even alternative Ad networks not controlled by Google should also be joined into this Google global unlimited. The goal must be 100 Million people paying $10/month, and 90% of these $24 Billion per year need to be paid to content creators, and 10% to pay for ads-free Google online bandwidth/computing service.

    • lakawak says:

      Google gets way more than $10 per user per month in ad revenue over every site that they own. IT would be a HUGE loss to do this.

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