Rooster Teeth raised over $2.48 million in crowdfunding in 2014 on Indiegogo for feature film, Lazer Team. And the week leading up to the January 27th worldwide premiere, Rooster Teeth announced it had pre-sold over $1M in tickets. Now two weeks post-premiere and “Lazer Team’s” box office numbers aren’t quite stacking up.
In it’s first week, the movie opened to just over $100K in box office revenue from its limited release 35 theatres, a number which dropped to 10 theatres in its second week. The result was over 93% decrease in sales for week two, just over $6,000 in box office. The total recorded revenue to date is $1.15 Million, according to Box Office Mojo, a staggering half of its total crowdfunding project.
While it’s reported numbers aren’t remarkable, even given the declining theatrical business, “Lazer Team” could still bring in additional revenues from digital distribution. The feature film is one of YouTube’s first to be distributed by their new subscription service, YouTube Red. The subscription service, which is priced at $9.99/month is said to parcel out revenue generated from subscriptions to creators on a sliding scale based on watch time. At present, the numbers and comments have been disable to prevent any transparency on the viewership of the feature film.
“Lazer Team’s” opening weekend performance calls into question whether once-famed YouTube creators still have the ability to migrate audiences to other media. Grace Helbig, ItsGrace on YouTube, has also seen a decline in fan conversion to other forms of media, shifting from the #1 spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list to #7 just 15 months later.
Nicholas Gonda, CEO of Tugg, the social ticketing platform used to sell advanced tickets to “Lazer Team”, told VideoInk in an email that social and the engaged fanbase was largely the driver for early sales (as opposed to marketing or promotional tours). “What’s been incredible to watch with this fanbase is just how strong Rooster Teeth’s online community is. They support and encourage each other; it’s like a family,” he said. “Upon RSVPing, ticket buyers are asked to spread the word on social media. They asked their friends, family, and followers to share in the theatrical experience. As a result, sales were driven by word-of-mouth marketing around Tugg’s singular call-to-action. That multiplied effect drove the success of this campaign. Rooster Teeth’s online presence was instrumental to building this social awareness.”
As YouTube and digital talent increasingly move into other more “traditional” formats, gauging the performance on these projects will start to fit into the Old Hollywood construct and standards — and whether that bodes well for video creators…well, it’s not looking so good.