YouTube Star Freddie Wong Launches a Summer Blockbuster -- Without a Studio
YouTube Star Freddie Wong Launches a Summer Blockbuster -- Without a Film Studio
YouTube sensation Freddie Wong is out to prove you can release a summer blockbuster without a major studio.
His new feature-length film, "Video Game High School," has been watched more than 40 million times since its release in May.
But Wong didn't debut "VGHS" in a movie theater, nor on YouTube, where he and partner Brandon Laatsch (pictured below) operate a channel, Freddiew, that has more than 3.2 million subscribers.
The film -- chopped up into nine 10- to 20-minute pieces -- premiered on RocketJump, an ad-supported site that he and Laastch launched with "VGHS" showrunner Matthew Arnold to host content outside of YouTube.
The film is about a world where nerds and their videogames have replaced jocks and sports at the top of the social pyramid. Each new part aired for a week on RocketJump, then moved onto Wong's popular YouTube channel.
Though YouTube eventually made up the majority of its views, RocketJump has still accounted for more than 7 million views to date, with traffic increasing as more people discovered that the newer episodes were debuting on the native site.
"Even at the highest level of YouTube, the money you can get will never fund something like 'VGHS,'" Wong told TheWrap. "We need our own place to exhibit our own content and we need to be able to control that user experience, and have a way to guide viewers through content."
Wong and his partners conceived RocketJump about the same time they were making "VGHS." The goal was to extend their brand and create a better viewing experience for consumers.
While YouTube controls the display and formatting, the Freddiew team and its management company, the Collective Digital Studio, is able to tailor RocketJump to their core audience, mostly gamer fans.
"We can create a more immersive experience on a platform Freddie owns and controls," Dan Weinstein, head of the Collective's digital enterprise, told TheWrap.
That means adding behind-the-scenes footage, podcasts, written descriptions of the clips, a different commenting system -- and, potentially, transmedia experiences.
Key important, though, to the bottom line are the business implications.
Filmmakers posting videos on YouTube must split the revenue with Google's online video behemoth. That places a lower ceiling on the money that can be made from a video.
"We can potentially leverage brands and sponsors more than on YouTube because we control the entire ecosystem," Weinstein said. "[RocketJump] was about doing different types of deals that were more immersive and had more flexibility to custom create advertising programs."