If you’ve heard of the summer action comedy Lazer Team, it’s probably because you donated to its record-breaking crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo. For the rest of you who are scratching your heads, the film is the first feature-length production by the seasoned viral video specialists of Rooster Teeth — an Austin, Texas, production company that boasts more than 8 million YouTube subscribers. Rooster Teeth is also behind the popular sci-fi web series Red vs. Blue. Launched in 2003, it’s the longest-running episodic series of its kind.
Now, you can see the first trailer for Lazer Team, exclusively premiering above.
Team raised nearly $2.5 million, breaking Indiegogo records, to become the third-most-backed crowd-funded movie ever. Only Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here ($3.1 million) and Veronica Mars ($5.7 million), both launched via Kickstarter, raked in more.
That’s quite a feat considering no one in Lazer has near the name power of Braff or Mars star Kristen Bell. Though Teeth co-founder and CEO Matt Hullum, who directed the movie, offers a different take: “Lazer Team has some pretty big stars… They’re non-traditional, Internet celebrities. And they have a huge following. Their celebrity is in a different form.”
Hullum hopped on the phone with Yahoo Movies with his Teeth co-founder Burnie Burns — an actor and writer for Team. Hullum was quick to point out his colleague has a Twitter following of 361,000. Also starring in the film is Hunger Games alum Alan Ritchson, the voice of Raphael in the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. While Ritchson is not as big a name as his Games castmate Jennifer Lawrence, he does have a healthy amount of fans.
But beyond individual fan bases, Burns is banking on Teeth’s massive 8.1 million-strong YouTube following. “Of them 35,000 people backed the Lazer Team campaign,” he pointed out. “That’s less than 0.2 percent. With a slim percentage we were able to break records.”
Still, the guys behind Lazer Team are well aware that crowd-funding dollars don’t yet add up to box office dollars. Veronica Mars, for example, only made a fraction of what it raised from its big-screen run: just less than $3.5 million, as its backers received digital copies of the movie as it opened in theaters. In other words, the crowd-funding play is not a theatrical-release play.
Burns and Hullum look to release Team on multiple platforms, in addition to the big screen. And like the Mars campaign, they’ve promised digital copies of the action comedy to roughly 32,000 backers who donated $25 or more. They plan to have the film out by the summer, but no official date has been set and a distributor has yet to be named.