The Hollywood studios have long recognized the promotional power of YouTube to reach elusive young viewers, drafting the site’s celebrities to create original videos to build awareness and anticipation for a forthcoming film.
These digital marketing campaigns have reached fever pitch this summer, as such mainstream actors as “Jurassic World’s” Chris Pratt, “Trainwreck’s” Amy Schumer and Bill Hader, “Ant-Man” star Paul Rudd and “Terminator Genisys'” Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped by the YouTube Space LA production facilities to share screen time with YouTubers.
“We all realize the value of the YouTube creators as an outlet, and we look for these opportunities to take someone like Chris [Pratt] and put them in front of an audience, the way we do with Ellen [DeGeneres] or [Jimmy] Fallon,” said Doug Neil, executive vice president of digital marketing for Universal Pictures.
The comedy duo Smosh messed with the good-natured Pratt in a mock celebrity interview that attracted some 3.5 million views on YouTube. We suspect this may be the first time the actor has ever called someone’s mother to report that her son had contracted a venereal disease.
Meanwhile, Schumer and Hader sat down for a conversation with Milly, the potty-mouthed 8-year-old puppet character created by the Fine Bros, who asked the comedians to describe, specifically and in vivid detail, why “Trainwreck” earned its R rating.
One of the most ambitious of the Hollywood-YouTube collaborations, “Terminator Genisys: The YouTube Chronicles,” took nearly six months to realize. The scripted series played out across three major YouTube Channels and involved mainstream Hollywood talent — including a screenwriter, stunt coordinator, visual effects gurus (to achieve the Terminator’s trademark mercury-like transformation from robot to human) and footage from the latest installment of the sci-fi franchise.
The original terminator, Schwarzenegger, spent two days at the Playa Vista facility, acting alongside some 20 credited YouTube personalities, among them Machinima hosts Ricky Hayberg and Eliot Dewberry, Toby Turner (known to his fans as Tobuscus) and Superwoman Lilly.
“The production value was extremely high, and that was important to us — showing the cinematic promise of the movie,” said Megan Wahtera, Paramount Pictures’ senior vice president of interactive marketing. “A lot of time was spent on production after-effects so it looked truly like the world of ‘Terminator.’”
YouTube Space LA head Liam Collins said the production facility’s proximity to the major film studios make such creative joint ventures possible.
The studios are drawn by YouTube’s attractive demographics: It reaches more 18- to 34-year-olds than any cable network in the U.S. and viewers are spending more time than ever watching videos on the site. YouTube creators, meanwhile, get the chance to tinker with some valuable intellectual property, singing alongside Minions or schooling “Ant-Man” star Paul Rudd about the changes to his voice and body mass that would occur if the actor really shrank to the size of an insect.
“At YouTube we believe collaboration among creative people will always enhance the work product,” Collins said. “By bringing together very experienced studio talent with creators who understand this platform very well, you’re increasing the chances you’re going to have an inspiring video.”
YouTube even dabbled in a bit of red-carpet celebrity glitz. It hosted the stars of the newly released teen film “Paper Towns,” Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne, who, along with author John Green, attended a live-streamed concert featuring performances by artists whose songs make up the motion picture soundtrack: Vance Joy, Saint Motel, Sam Bruno and Nat and Alex Wolff.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.