Sony’s ‘Carrie’ Promo Prank Cracks YouTube’s Year-End Top Video Ranking

Studio stays competitive among highest trending videos including "What Does the Fox Say?"

Kimberly Peirce’s adaptation of Stephen King’s horror classic “Carrie” may have tanked at the box office, but the film’s promotional campaign proved to be a viral hit. A web ad for the movie cracked YouTube’s year-end list of trending videos, which was issued Wednesday.

With almost 51 million views, the elaborate promotional prank dubbed the “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise” is No. 8 on the top 10 list. In the clip, unsuspecting customers at a New York City coffee shop witness the epitome of a teen meltdown when a girl unleashes her “telekinetic powers” on someone who accidentally spills her coffee. Unbeknownst to the crowd, the perpetrator and victim are both actors.

Upon its release in October, Sony’s savvy promotional piece received over 4 million hits in a single day. A viral campaign can not only generate buzz, but draw audiences to films. Tens of thousands of commenters took to YouTube to express newfound interest in the Julianne Moore and Chloë Grace Moretz-starrer after watching the vid.

Thinkmodo — the agency behind the video — also created the viral hits iPad Head Girl, the Shaving Helmet and the Times Square TV Hack.

This year’s list also demonstrates YouTube’s pivotal role in online advertising. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Volvo commercial featuring the split seen around the world and Evian’s water ad with the return of the dancing babies also appear in top 10, pointing to a future with ads that fit in more with YouTube content than TV commercials.

SEE ALSO: Why a Volvo Stunt is Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Biggest Hit in Years

But to understand the list’s overall trend, one must listen to what the fox says: YouTube is a breeding ground for comic talent.

With almost 277 million views, Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis’ viral video “What Does the Fox Say?” topped the site’s annual list of trending videos (see the sly dancing fox on YouTube’s homepage). Vids from three other relatively unknown YouTube users nabbed the second to fourth slots. Meanwhile, Maker Studios won big with three of its partners making the ranks.

Two other comedy clips that cracked the top 10 come from users whose channels on the Google-owned site, Bad Lip Reading and Epic Rap Battles of History, have gained a steady following over the last few years.

The second “trendiest” video (95 million hits) — the original army edition of the “Harlem Shake” — was uploaded by another Norwegian, Kenneth Håkonsen, who usually posts vids of himself playing piano tunes. The comedy re-imagining of the popular dance craze ignited an online phenomenon. Thousands of versions of the 30-second meme hit YouTube earlier this year.

MisterEpicMann’s “How Animals Eat Their Food” and Steve Kardynal’s Chatroulette parody of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” (YouTube’s second most viewed video) came in third and fourth, respectively. Both have helped usher in a new era of the YouTube personality.

As Maker Studios demonstrates, multichannel networks can crank out viral comedy. The online programmer has produced Epic Rap Battles of History (“Mozart versus Skrillex” came in tenth) since 2010. It also works with Steve Kardynal (his “Wrecking Ball” cover is fourth) and partnered with Bad Lip Reading (their NFL lip reading is ninth) last year. Maker’s roster of YouTube personalities also includes PewDiePie — who runs YouTube’s most-subscribed channel — and Snoop Lion’s WestFestTV.

In addition to sharing its list of the highest trending videos, YouTube also shared its list of most viewed videos, which is dominated by music vids. Trending videos aren’t just defined by views, but a combination of various other criteria, including shares, responses and user comments.

South Korean sensation Psy had the most viewed video (599 million views) for the second year in a row, with “Gentleman.” Unsurprisingly, Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” and “We Can’t Stop” were the second and third most watched, respectively, while Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason” rounded out the top five.

YouTube’s Top 10 Trending Videos:

The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)
Harlem Shake
How Animals Eat Their Food
Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette Version)
Baby & Me / The New Evian Film
Volvo Truck — The Epic Split featuring Jean Claude Van Damme
The Lonely Island’s YOLO featuring Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar
Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise
The NFL: A Bad Lip Reading
Mozart versus Skillrex: Epic Rap Battles of History, Season 2

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • fundo logo

    Google‘s Area 120 Is Testing Fundo, a Crowdfunding Service for Creators (EXCLUSIVE)

    Google’s skunkworks lab Area 120 has been quietly testing an events-centric crowdfunding service for YouTubers, Variety has learned. Called Fundo, the service allows creators to invite their fans to virtual meet & greet sessions and other paid online events. A Google spokesperson confirmed the testing in a statement provided to Variety: “One of the many [...]

  • Telling Lies - Logan Marshall-Green

    Sam Barlow's 'Telling Lies' Government-Surveillance Thriller Game Sets Release Date

    After more than two years in the works, “Telling Lies” — the investigative thriller from acclaimed game creator Sam Barlow — is ready to take the stage. The game, produced with and released by Annapurna Interactive, will be available next Friday, Aug. 23, via Steam and Apple’s Mac and iOS app stores. “Telling Lies” will [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Will Stop Letting Copyright Holders Seize Revenue via Manual Claims on Very Short Music Clips

    YouTube is pushing back against overzealous copyright policing by music companies. Starting in mid-September, the video giant will forbid copyright holders from making manual claims to commandeer revenue generated by YouTube videos that include very short music clips (e.g., five seconds of a song) or “unintentional” music (like music from passing cars). “One concerning trend [...]

  • Chelsea Handler memoir book buy online

    Chelsea Handler Bonds With Alexa in iHeartRadio Smart Speaker Promo

    iHeartRadio has teamed up with Amazon to promote Chelsea Handler’s podcast “Life Will Be The Death Of Me.” Beginning this Thursday, users of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker and other devices with Alexa built-in can opt to get their mornings started with Handler cracking jokes and exchanging banter with the smart assistant. Users simply have to [...]

  • David Messinger, Activision Blizzard

    Activision Blizzard Hires CAA Veteran David Messinger as CMO

    Activision Blizzard tapped David Messinger, a former 15-plus-year veteran of CAA, as its first corporate-wide chief marketing officer. Messinger, based in Santa Monica, reports to Coddy Johnson, Activision Blizzard’s president and COO. It’s the first time the video-game company has appointed a CMO who will oversee the global marketing operations across all of Activision Blizzard [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content