Online-video platform YouTube has grown in a relatively brief period of time from a space for sharing random slivers of home movies to a vibrant community of amateur and professional content creators bringing unique and original voices to the world of entertainment. The service recently announced a new subscription-based service, YouTube Red, which will give users access to ad-free videos and exclusive original content from “top creators.”
The first wave of YouTube Red Originals is now scheduled to hit on February 10, and trailers for the series, such as Scare PewDiePie, Lazer Team, Dance Camp, and A Trip to Unicorn Island have been released.
Scare PewDiePie features one of the most popular figures in the so-called “Let’s Play” genre taking his act to the real world, as he films his reactions to participating in live haunted-houses, escape rooms, and other physical interactive games with a horror/endurance bent. Famed for his signature extreme reactions to playing horror video games, PewDiePie has amassed a huge following and already earns millions of dollars in advertising alone.
Dance Camp is an original teen-oriented feature film produced by AwesomenessTV. In the tradition of movies like Save The Last Dance and Step Up, the film follows the exploits of a talented young dancer as he becomes part of a specialty Summer Camp where fellow dancers square off in intense competition and interpersonal melodrama.
A Trip to Unicorn Island is a musical-documentary following the world tour of Indo-Canadian musician Lilly Singh, who launched herself as an indie-music sensation under the YouTube pseudonym “IISuperwomanII.” In this case, the titular “Island” refers to Singh’s nickname for her own creative headspace. The trailer makes sure to spotlight a high-profile guest appearance by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, whose meeting with Singh had been previously documented as part of her web series.
Lazer Team is an ambitious sci-fi/comedy from Rooster Teeth productions, in which a group of friends find a cache of weapons and armor inside a crashed alien spaceship, not realizing that picking the gear up drafts them into conflict with an invading army of alien warriors. Burnie Burns, Gavin Free, Michael Jones, Colton Dunn, Allie DeBerry, and Alan Ritchson star in the feature for director Matt Hullum, who is a Texas-based visual effects specialist long associated with the Rooster Teeth brand.
While YouTube Red has been welcomed by many upper-tier creators as a way to expand the reach and scope of Internet-based content production, the broader YouTube service continues to come under scrutiny for its policies toward smaller creators and video journalists. Many have cited an (allegedly) overzealous copyright-monitoring “Content ID” program as a problem in terms of striking down certain content and unjustly penalizing creators. Some have posited that the new focus on YouTube Red could divert the service’s attention even further from these criticisms, while others have argued that a more powerful YouTube is one potentially more able to address concerns.
The YouTube Red Originals are set to premiere February 10.