A week ago, YouTube officially launched its long-rumored subscription service: YouTube Red. Starting today, just $9.99 a month will unlock a whole host of features, including ad-free videos, offline play, a Google Play subscription, and, beginning next year, plenty of exclusive content from some of the biggest names in digital video. YouTube stars like PewDiePie, Lilly Singh, and the Fine Brothers have all signed on to create exclusive series and films, and one of the most anticipated projects will be the launch of Rooster Teeth’s first full-length feature: Lazer Team.
With more than 20 million YouTube subscribers across its channels, Rooster Teeth is best known for its web series like RWBY and Red vs. Blue, but Lazer Team will hit limited theaters in January before exclusively streaming on YouTube Red next year. “So much of our audience found us because of YouTube,” says Rooster Teeth CEO Matt Hullum, who directed and co-wrote Lazer Team. “It just makes sense to have a premium platform that’s right next to where our fans already are.”
Lazer Team stars plenty of Rooster Teeth talent, including Michael Jones, Gavin Free, and Burnie Burns, who co-wrote the film with Hullum, Josh Flanagan, and Chris Demarais. It tells the story of “four idiots” who discover an alien suit of power and inadvertently have to become champions of earth in a battle against an impending alien invasion. “So it’s a historical romance,” Hullum jokes. “No, it’s typical Rooster Teeth action comedy. Lots of explosions, lots of big fun stuff, lots of special effects, lots of jokes.”
Rooster Teeth turned to Indiegogo last year to fund the sci-fi comedy flick, and they exceeded their goal almost immediately. The project went on to raise $2.5 million, making it the most successful film campaign in Indiegogo’s history. Hullum says the response was overwhelming. “This has to be really, really good because they exceeded our expectations by a long shot,” he says. “So we wanted to exceed theirs.”
After production started on Lazer Team, Rooster Teeth started looking for distribution options right as their longtime partner YouTube began hunting for YouTube Red exclusives. Hullum says it was the perfect opportunity to try an innovative distribution model while still making Lazer Team accessible to as many viewers as possible. “[Rooster Teeth] started before YouTube existed,” he says, laughing. “We’ve seen a lot of changes, so it’s always exciting when you feel like something comes along that is going to make a mark on the industry.”