Low Budget Movie Remakes Are Scoring On YouTube

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F9 is the latest film in the popular Fast & Furious franchise and while production wrapped last November and was scheduled for a big theatrical release on May 22, it was pushed back until next April due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Without a Fast & Furious film what were fans of nonsensical action to do this summer?

Waiting wasn’t an option for two guys, who decided to “remake” the 2001 original release with just a budget of $100! Kent Yoshimura and Kevin Fairy created the YouTube channel Budget Boyz and recreated the movie as cheaply as possible – this meant Matchbox cars instead of real race sequences, while Yosimura and Fairy played every role in the film.

If it sounds a bit cheesy that is sort of the point.

How Low (Budget) Can You Go?

Budget Boyz aren’t the first to create – or should we say recreate – a big budget film on a very small budget. Last year Studio 188 made a low cost version of The Matrix, while the Cardboard Movie Co. produced Alien: Low-Budget Remake. The idea with these films isn’t actually to outdo the original but to pay homage.

“This trend is an extension of a YouTube phenomenon that started last year: Potato Mode, which is where gamers play popular games with the lowest graphics settings possible,” said Brian Dean is the founder of Backlinko and the popular Backlinko YouTube channel.

“These remakes are the movie equivalent of that trend,” added Dean. “YouTube is the perfect platform for these videos because it’s the de facto home for user-produced long-form content. Yes, there’s plenty of video content on Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. But videos on those platforms tend to be relatively short compared to what gets traction on YouTube.”

In a cruel summer when movie theaters have been mostly shuttered, and films such as Tom Hank’s World War II submarine thriller Greyhound – which could certainly be remade on the cheap – have been relegated to the Apple+ streaming service, it is easy to see why these low budget films are finding an audience.

“The uptick in low-budget production is probably due more to Covid living than anything else right now,” explained Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Research.

Low Budget But Big Stories

It should be remembered too that while the budgets are small, a movie production is still very much a movie production.

“Whether the budget is $100 million or $100 dollars, making a film is a time-consuming task, and many more people than usual have a lot of time on their hands these days,” added Crandall. “Since many more people are spending their time watching online videos, YouTube and Vimeo are terrific outlets for today’s independent directors to find an audience. It’s quick, easy and free.”

One other notable point is that Hollywood either hasn’t noticed or at least has accepted that these low budget films exist and the studios haven’t taken the traditional course of requiring the removal of copyrighted material.

“Hollywood has many more problems on their hands these days than policing for these types of movies,” noted Crandall. “Their legal teams are more concerned with piracy than going after fan-flicks. I think that their perspective is that somebody who recreates a franchise into a homemade viral video is generating more interest to see the next sequel, once Hollywood can get back into production again.”

In fact, as the big budget F9 is delayed, the fan-made remake – regardless of the cheese factor – could probably keep some interest in the franchise during the ongoing pandemic.

“The studios are probably loving the free exposure,” said Dean.

“Especially for classic movies like Alien that many younger viewers may have never seen,” Dean added. “YouTube is benefiting from it as well, as they now sell movies inside of the platform.”

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