- YouTube and Warner Bros. Pictures have teamed up on a free streaming of "The Lego Movie" for viewers of the trailer of the new "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," according to a news release.
- For 24 hours on the day after Thanksgiving, anyone viewing the trailer for the new movie, which opens in theaters on Feb. 8, 2019, can screen the first film in the franchise, marking the first time YouTube has included a full-length movie within an ad.
- Users can launch the screening by entering the YouTube search keyword "Brick Friday" and select the promoted video for "The Lego Movie 2" at the top of the results.
The one-day streaming of "The Lego Movie" is the latest example of how YouTube is aiming to offer higher-value content to grow its audiences while creating unique advertising opportunities for brands. Launching the campaign on Black Friday is strategic timing, as the day after Thanksgiving is a popular movie-watching time. Screening the film ad-free, since the film itself is the ad, and the novelty factor that the event is the first time in the platform’s history that it has rolled out a full-length movie in an ad could attract viewers.
The campaign opens up new opportunities for film studios seeking to promote new releases on the platform and reach YouTube’s 1.9 billion monthly active users. Hollywood studios continue to see unique ways to engage audiences on digital platforms and encourage them to go to a movie theater. For example, last year Disney used digital billboards in New York City’s Times Square and Toronto’s TEC Towers to display real-time Twitter reactions to "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." A day before the film’s release last December, there had already been 1.8 million tweets.
The promotion with Warner Bros. follows closely on the heels of reports that YouTube recently began showing free, ad-supported Hollywood films like "Rocky" and "The Terminator" and is showcasing the films in the movie section of the platform. The streaming ad for "The Lego Movie" seems to be an example of how YouTube’ could support its partnerships with film studios with promotional opportunities. YouTube could conceivably allow an advertiser to sponsor individual movies, which would give viewers free access and exclusive screenings. However, the extent of the opportunities will depend on how film studios shift their business models to account for digital streaming.