YouTube is entering the movie business.
The Google-owned online video service has signed a deal with DreamWorks Animation's online video network AwesomenessTV to roll out several feature films over the next two years that will premiere globally on YouTube before hitting other distribution outlets that will potentially include movie theaters. YouTube expects to release the first of these films this fall.
"We work with amazing creators to make great short form content on YouTube every day," Awesomeness TV CEO Brian Robbins said in a statement. "We think the platform is really ready for long form, so now we will make movies that will star YouTubers and premiere on YouTube. We will turn YouTube stars into movie stars."
YouTube isn't trying to turn all of its creators into movie stars; for some, it has other plans.
The company is moving forward with plans announced last fall to jump into original series, announcing that it has signed deals with four of its stars to produce series that will debut on the Google-owned video service.
The Fine Brothers are creating a scripted comedy show that will parody singing competition shows. Practical joke duo Prank vs. Prank will dial up the antics in a series that will feature yet-to-be-named celebrities. Joey Graceffa will host a murder-mystery reality show that will also star other unnamed YouTube creators. And another set of brothers, Smosh, will star in a comedy that has them working at a themed restaurant.
A YouTube spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a question about whether YouTube will be running ads against the feature films or original series. It may not. The company plans to add an ad-free subscription tier to its service, and putting these original programs behind a paywall could be one way to drive people to subscribe.