YouTube goes to Hollywood with plans to make movies featuring digital stars

YouTube Tablet

YouTube is getting into the movie business, although its films will be getting their premieres online rather than in cinemas.

Google’s online video service has announced a partnership with multi-channel network (MCN) and DreamWorks Animation subsidiary AwesomenessTV to make a series of films featuring YouTube stars.

“Together, we’ll release several feature-length films over the next two years, all driven by YouTube stars and developed and produced by AwesomenessTV’s Brian Robbins,” wrote YouTube Originals boss Alex Carloss in a blog post.

“The films will all premiere globally on YouTube before they become available elsewhere, setting what we believe will become a new distribution paradigm for years to come. We hope to release our first film this fall, with more details to come soon.”

Robbins had already announced at the recent MIPTV conference that AwesomenessTV is producing six feature films, having topped Apple’s iTunes chart in December 2014 with Expelled, a film featuring online star Cameron Dallas.

“This film accomplished in four months what it takes most studios four years to do: create a hit movie that resonates with the audience most important to follow,” said Robbins, whose company was bought by DreamWorks in 2013.

YouTube is funding a new show from Prank vs Prank.

YouTube has also announced deals with four popular creators to launch new shows exclusively on its service, including scripted comedy shows from Smosh and The Fine Brothers; a new series of trickery show Prank vs Prank featuring celebrities; and a “murder mystery reality” series fronted by vlogger Joey Graceffa.

It’s part of what Carloss described as “an even bolder step to invest in ambitious projects from our top creators” as YouTube faces the prospect of growing competition for its stars from the likes of Yahoo and Facebook as well as Snapchat and Vessel.

YouTube has also acquired exclusive rights to the first series of Wonder Quest, the new educational show launched by British Minecraft gamer Joseph Garrett (aka Stampy) which made its debut this week. “ Google saw potential in the show,” Garrett told the Guardian in an interview.

Carloss signified YouTube’s willingness to stump up for exclusive shows in a previous blog post in September 2014.

“We’ve decided to fund new content from some of our top creators, helping them not only fulfill their creative ambitions but also deliver new material to their millions of fans on YouTube,” he wrote then.

“We’ll experiment with new formats and ideas. We’ll get our hands dirty. We’ll make some mistakes. Together, we’ll (hopefully) create some fantastic new content on YouTube. But one thing is certain: there’s no one we’d rather go on this adventure with than our creators.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 29th April 2015 15.40 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010