Natural Born Pranksters: Lionsgate continues prowl for YouTube talent
James R | On 09, Nov 2015
The rise of web celebs has baffled many in the traditional media industry, as vloggers continue to enjoy popularity with young audiences, something that has carried over from the world of online TV to large-scale conventions, international tours and even books.
Lionsgate, though, has set itself apart from the pack by prowling for YouTube talent to snap up. Last year, it picked up the global distribution rights for Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox’s feature-length outing, The Smosh Movie, which was released in cinemas and on VOD and has since landed on Netflix.
Now, the distributor is hunting again, bagging the rights for Natural Born Pranksters. The movie, which stars VitalyzdTV (aka. Vitaly Zdorovetskiy), Roman Atwood and Dennis Roady, is backed by Collective Digital Studio and sees the trio of pranksters scale up their antics to epic bad-assery (that’s a technical term) as they turn Hollywood into “Prankwood”. So far, marketing stunts have included Vitaly rushing the field at the 2014 Men’s World Cup Final.
As is tradition with YouTube star projects, they will feature cameos not from old-school celebrities but web and social media personalities, including Jenna Marbels and Furious Pete.
VitalyzdTV, Atwood and Roady, who have a collective total of 25 million subscribers are part of CDS’s multichannel network. VitalyzdTV is claimed to be the number one prank channel on YouTube, with 8.7 million followers, while videos from Atwood (pictured above) rack up over 100 million views each month. CDS is making waves too: the MCN, which was founded by Michael Green, Reza Izad, Gary Binkow and Dan Weinstein and is known for the web series Video Game High School, recently merged with ProSiebenSat.1’s Studio 71 to create Collective Studio 71.
“Vitaly, Roman and Dennis have built a massive YouTube following, and this is a great opportunity to bring their trademark stunts and humor to an even bigger audience,” said Jim Packer, Lionsgate president of worldwide television and digital distribution.
The movie is one of several projects from Lionsgate involving YouTubers, which also include a project from fellow pranksters The Janoskians, Dirty Thirty, starring Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart and Hannah Hart, and Hulu’s original series, RocketJump, from Freddie Wong.
“Lionsgate is the perfect partner,” added Gary Binkow, chief content officer of CDS.