YouTube has canceled “Escape the Night” after four seasons, ending its longest-running original series, Variety has confirmed. The semi-scripted murder-mystery series was hosted by Joey Graceffa, who presided over the retro mega-collab in which a famous YouTuber got killed off in each episode.
But Graceffa isn’t letting “Escape the Night” fade to black.
In a video posted Tuesday, he said Season 5 of the show was not happening “this year” but he left the door open for the series to return (which would be under different auspices now that YouTube has dropped it). “I don’t know when there will be a Season 5,” Graceffa said, saying it was unable to go forward because COVID-19 production shutdowns.
Graceffa didn’t say that “Escape the Night” was canceled. However, a source tells Variety that YouTube declined to pick up “ETN” Season 5.
In lieu of a new season, Graceffa teased a new interactive fan version of “Escape the Night” that he said he has been working on for the past year. “I get so many comments of, like, ‘You should do a fan season of “Escape the Night”‘ and, like, ‘It would be so fun to be able to play “Escape the Night,”‘” he said.
Graceffa pointed fans to a signup page on the Backerkit website for the project. Those who enrolled were then directed to a group on game-chat service Discord. So far, the “Escape the Night” group on Discord has more than 22,000 members.
“You are invited to take a journey back in time to 1920. To a house… a house of EVIL!” says an email from Graceffa to fans who signed up for the new project. “It will require all your skill and strategy to make it out alive before sunrise. Choose your fellow players carefully if you want to escape the night!”
— Escape The Night (@EscapeTheNight) June 23, 2020
Graceffa is producing the interactive offshoot of “Escape the Night” in collaboration with Studio71, the digital network he signed with last year.
While YouTube has opted to not renew Graceffa’s “Escape the Night,” the platform’s originals team is exploring working with the YouTuber on a different project, a source familiar with the discussions said.
Word of YouTube’s cancellation of “Escape the Night” comes as the video giant has wound down virtually its entire scripted slate. Earlier this week, it was announced that Netflix would pick up YouTube Originals’ hit show “Cobra Kai” for Season 3. That came after Starz stepped in to acquire the series version of “Step Up,” based on Lionsgate’s film franchise of the same name. Other scripted series that YouTube has been unable to find new homes for have shut down.
YouTube Originals has shifted to unscripted projects — with everything available to watch on the free, ad-supported side of the service — centered on personalities, learning content, music and special coronavirus-related programming. YouTube is expected to announce new projects at the Brandcast online presentation for marketers on Thursday.
“Escape the Night” was produced by Graceffa and Brian Graden Media. Over its four seasons, with Graceffa starring as “The Savant,” it featured a host of popular YouTubers as cast members. Those have included Rosanna Pansino, Justine “iJustine” Ezarik, Alex Wassabi, DeStorm Power, Tana Mongeau, Colleen Ballinger, Nikita Dragun, Liza Koshy, Tyler Oakley, Andrea Russett, Eva Gutowski, Lele Pons, GloZell Green, Shane Dawson and Timothy DeLaGhetto.
Graceffa, 29, has over 12 million subscribers for his YouTube channels. He’s expanded his creative and business projects beyond YouTube to encompass music, merchandise, a memoir and three dystopian young-adult novels. Graceffa also recently starred in Facebook Watch series “Make My Nickelodeon Dreams Come True.”
Pictured above (l. to r.): Colleen Ballinger, Joey Graceffa and Bretman Rock in “Escape the Night” Season 4