AwesomenessTV launched four years ago as a multichannel network focused on up-and-coming YouTube personalities and influencers before expanding into branded entertainment, music content and now feature-length films. Today, it’s releasing its first feature film in theaters nationwide.
Before I Fall stars actor Zoey Deutch and Kian Lawley, a digital influencer who has more than 3 million YouTube subscribers. Matt Kaplan, president of Awesomeness Films, said Lawley should be a big draw with the movie’s target audience. “Ultimately, more kids know Kian than other actors in movies geared toward a high school audience,” Kaplan said.
Brian Bouttier, president of AwesomenessTV, said that one of the biggest misconceptions about members of Gen Z is that “they don’t have purchase power.”
“Soon, Gen Z will account for 40 percent of all consumers, and they’re defining how we’ll consume everything,” he said.
“We know what Gen Z wants to watch or wants to look like and how best to get it to them,” Bouttier said. “We’ve been programming for this demographic day in and day out for years.”
Distributed by Open Road Films, which is behind movies like Spotlight, the Nut Job and Mother’s Day, Before I Fall is opening in more than 2,300 theaters across the country. While it’s Awesomeness Films’ first wide release, the decision to put it in theaters came only after filming was complete.
“We felt this project was best suited to go theatrical, but we could’ve self-financed and sold the end result to someone like Hulu, or Amazon or Netflix,” said Kaplan. “Ultimately, it depends on the content you’re making and how you can get the most amount of people to see it.”
Awesomeness counts a movie studio among its owners. Comcast owns 51 percent of the company, while Verizon and Hearst Corporation each own 24.5 percent of the company.
Still, Awesomeness is afforded the luxury of independence not every media company has. The team thinks that’s due to its core audience of young adults.
“They’re not afraid to experiment,” said Bouttier. “They’re also not afraid of labels because that’s not even something they do. That’s so freeing, not just for us, but for them.”