Movie Fights is a movie-themed panel web show published on the Screen Junkies YouTube channel. It is a monthly competition in which three contestants debate topics related to movies and pop culture. Some episodes feature serious, thoughtful arguments, while others have a sillier, comedic bent. Episodes typically run 60-120 minutes. The show was created by Andy Signore and first began production in 2014. Over 200 episodes have been produced. Movie Fights is also available as a podcast.
The current host of Movie Fights is Hal Rudnick. Hal is joined by two other judges: Dan Murrell, who acts as fact-checker, and Danielle Radford. Movie Fights contestants are typically people working in the digital media industry, especially hosts from Los Angeles-based YouTube channels. Many of Movie Fights highest-viewed episodes have featured celebrity guests including actor Seth Rogen, director Kevin Smith and actor Elijah Wood.
In its current incarnation, Movie Fights consists of five regular rounds of approximately 15 minutes, followed by a speed round of four questions of approximately 1 minute.
Regular rounds Edit
Contestants are given the regular round questions ahead of time so they can prepare their arguments ahead of time (Not that they always do!). Contestants know what their opponents' choices will be ahead of time, but they do not know their opponents' specific arguments. Each contestant makes a short opening statement, then the debate is opened up to general discussion. Usually, the host alerts the contestants that time is running out and asks for final arguments. Contestants are expected to do three things: advocate for their own choice, knock down their opponents choices, and defend against any counter-arguments made against them.
Speed round Edit
In the speed round, the host asks a question and the contestants must blurt out their answers as quickly as possible. Contestants are expected to provide answers to the speed round questions on the spot. Mind blanks are common, but making up fictional movies is totally allowed (provided the fact-checker doesn't catch on!). Whoever speaks first gets 20 seconds to argue for their choice. The second contestant then gets 20 seconds to argue for their choice. Each contestant then gets 10 second rebuttal.
After each round, the judges vote on who has made the best argument. The winner scores 1 point. The contestant with the most oints wins the game.
After all five regular rounds have been played, the contestant with the lowest number of points is eliminated. The top two contestants movie onto the speed round. The contestants carry over all points they won during the regular rounds (except tie-breakers). Theoretically, this means that a contestant can come from behind and win the game by winning all speed round questions. However, in practice, it means that a contestant who has dominated in the regular rounds starts the speed round with a head start and usually wins.
Movie Fights has three judges - the host (usually Hal Rudnick), the fact-checker (usually Dan Murrell), and the social media ambassador (usually Danielle Radford). Usually, the host and the fact-checker weigh in with their views on who made the best arguments. If they agree, they winner of that round is declared. If they disagree, the host asks the social media ambassador to weigh in. In regular rounds, the social media ambassador speaks on behalf of live viewers who have voted using the YouTube poll. In speeds rounds (or when the show is pre-recorded) the social media ambassador's decision is based on their own opinion. Judging is based on the strength of the arguments presented, not the judge's personal preferences about the chosen answers. If all three judges pick different contestants in a regular round, the social media ambassador must also weigh in with their personal opinion to break the tie.
Tie breakers Edit
In case of a tie at the completion of the regular rounds, the host asks all contestants a tie breaker question using the format of the speed round (that is, contestants must blurt out their answers as quickly as possible. They get 20 seconds to make their case and 10 seconds to rebut their opponents answers). Points scored in these tie breaker questions are not added to the overall score.
2014 - 2017 (Movie Fights: The Original Series) Edit
Movie Fights was originally created in response to changes in the YouTube algorithm that favored longer content. The first ever episode of Movie Fights was actually an episode of The Screen Junkies Show that functioned as a backdoor pilot for the series. This short video was called "Trivial Movie Fights" and featured a non-competitive debate between two teams of contestants over one round. After the success of this video, the concept was expanded into the hour-long, multi-round, competitive format.
Movie Fights was originally aired weekly. A typical episode of Old Movie Fights featured 5 regular round questions and 5 speed round questions, however, the show's format evolved a lot during its run. The earliest episodes included 8-10 regular round questions and no speed round. After the introduction of the speed round in episode 13, the number of regular round questions dropped to 7, then 6, then eventually 5. Counter-intuitively, as the number of questions decreased, the average length of episodes increased! This is because early episodes featured shorter rounds with less in-depth arguments.
Old Movie Fights episodes also included several incredibly nerdy touches, like a mess of comic book action figures on the set desk. The host used a toy version of Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, as a gavel to hit the bell at the end of each round. The series originally had an wrestling-influenced aesthetic which enhanced the absurdity of grown adults passionately debating pop culture minutiae like a competitive sport.
Episodes of Move Fights used to have provocative titles, for example, "Does Interstellar Suck?" "Does The Hobbit Suck?" "Will Jurassic World Suck?" "Jurassic World - Fun or Failure?" and "Suicide Squad: Rotten or Fresh?" These titles were irresistibly clickbaity, though they did encourage indignation. The adversarial style of the show was intended to be funny. However, as online fan culture became more toxic, the wrestling-esque "fighting" style began to more closely resemble real-world pop culture wars and sometimes lead to real-world consequences. For example, the highly divisive episode "Suicide Squad - Rotten or Fresh?" lead to one of the contestants receiving death threats on social media.
Until his dismissal in October 2017, the host of Movie Fights was Andy Signore. Viewers often accused Andy of being biased in his judging and allowing rounds to escalate into screaming matches. According to Joe Starr, the old approach to the show "created a toxic audience" where abuse in the comments was common. Many beloved contestants, including Alicia Malone, stopped participating in the show because of this toxic culture.
2017 - June 2019 (Movie Fights: The Next Generation) Edit
In late 2017, after Andy Signore was fired, Screen Junkies ceased production of Movie Fights for two months and burnt copious amounts of sage in the studio. When Movie Fights returned, Screen Junkies changed the style and format of the show in an effort to make it provoke less divisive outrage. This included renovating the set to resemble a generic game show, reducing the number of contestants to two, reducing the number of regular round questions to 3, and requiring contestants to stand behind podiums. Paradoxically, these changes provoked intense divisive outrage. Many fans vehemently and repeatedly demanded the return of the original set, three contestants and chairs.
The two-fighter format lasted for just 11 episodes from December 2017 - March 2018. In response to fan complaints, Screen Junkies reintroduced three contestants and chairs. One of the chairs sinks repeatedly, often comically mid-round. If Screen Junkies is too cheap to replace the sinking chair, there's no way they have the budget to renovate the entire set again.
Also at this time, Movie Fights changed its judging system. Previously, the host determined the winners of each round based entirely upon their own opinion. Staring in 2017, three votes were counted: the main host's, the fact-checker's, and the voice of the people (as determined by the results of the YouTube poll). This shiny new judging format was designed specifically for the two-fighter format where it worked perfectly. Alas, when Screen Junkies reverted to three fighters in 2018, they forgot to consider that all three judges could very easily vote for different contestants! This resulted in several three-way ties where the hosts sat stunned, with no idea what to do! Aren't live shows great?!
In January 2019, Joe Starr wrote this about the less adversarial tone of new Movie Fights: "Proud of where we’ve taken this show. The toxic screaming and clickbait is gone and I think we’ve pulled off something difficult: a show that has something for everyone each week without losing its identity and focus." Another change has been to the comment culture. Now, toxic comments are removed and abusive commenters are banned. Additionally, Screen Junkies started paying contestants to appear (contestants were not paid when Andy Signore was in charge).
July 2019 and on (Movie Fights: Special Events) Edit
In the May 23rd 2019 episode of Movie Fights, the hosts announced that starting from July, the show would no longer be weekly. Episodes will be uploaded around once a month or whenever the team have a topic they feel passionate about. New episodes will be themed around big movie events such as the best movie of the year, new entries in blockbuster franchises, and big entertainment news stories. From July 2019 on, episodes will be published on the weekend, alternating with episodes of The Screen Junkies Show and other special features. The show will no longer be live.
Dan Murrell explained that after making the show for almost five years and over 225 episodes, the team found it harder to find questions that they haven't done before on week-to-week basis. Dan also said that many guests have had to drop out over the past 12 months because of other work commitments. In addition, Dan noted that all the staff have many more work duties at Screen Junkies and FANDOM, compared to when the show started in 2014. Dan said he believed the scheduling change will improve the caliber of the show:
"We really do think that this is what keeps us excited about this show. It's what keeps the show fresh, it's what we hope keeps the show relevant and meaningful and tied to the stuff we really want to talk about."
Following this change in release schedule, Screen Junkies increases the number of regular round questions back to five. This increased the average length of episodes to just under 120 minutes.
Movie Fights has one producer and one writer/researcher. Movie Fights producers include Billy A. Patterson and Max Dionne. The writer/researcher of Movie Fights is Lon Harris. The writer creates questions based on topical entertainment news stories and movies hitting theaters that week.
Early episodes of Movie Fights were pre-recorded. However, in 2015 and 2016, the show was streamed live via the Screen Junkies Plus paid subscription service and then uploaded to YouTube a few days later. Viewer participation was encouraged on Twitter using the hashtag #MovieFightsLive and through Twitter polls. Screen Junkies Plus also used to feature a weekly post-mortem-style after-show called After The Fight in which viewers could Skype-call to talk to contestants.
When Screen Junkies Plus ended in June 2017, Movie Fights was streamed live every Thursday at 4PM PST on YouTube. Viewers participated via the YouTube live chat and through YouTube polls. From July 2019 on, Movie Fights reverted to being pre-recorded. It also became a monthly show, however, there is no fixed schedule for episodes. The team release new episodes whenever they have a topic worth debating. Movie Fights is now uploaded on Saturdays at 10AM PST.
Movie Fights is also available as a podcast, available on iTunes and Apple Podcasts. Apple Podcasts users have rated the Movie Fights podcast 4.8 out of 5.
Despite new episodes still being produced on a regular basis, the podcast feed has not been updated since September 2018. This delay is caused by issues with transferring the podcast feed from Screen Junkies' previous parent company (the now defunct Defy Media) to their new parent company (FANDOM). Screen Junkies have attempted to fix the problem multiple times, but no resolution has been forthcoming.
Spinoffs and Variations Edit
Two official Movie Fights spinoffs have been produced: TV Fights and Gamer Fights. Both versions were originally exclusive to the Screen Junkies Plus paid subscription service.
TV Fights EditTV Fights, hosted by Roxy Striar, debuted in November 2015, and aired live on Tuesdays at 4:00 pm PST on Screen Junkies Plus. Ken Napzok was fact-checker/social media ambassador for the first 50 episodes. Billy Business took on this role staring in episode 51. It followed the same format as Movie Fights. TV Fights was notable for featuring significantly more female contestants than Movie Fights.
Roxy used a toy version of Lucille, Negan's baseball bat from The Walking Dead, to hit the bell at the end of each round. When Screen Junkies Plus ended in June 2017, TV Fights moved briefly to Screen Junkies News YouTube channel. The final episode aired in October, 2017. In 2017, episodes of TV Fights tended to average around 50k views on YouTube. 99 full episodes of TV Fights were produced from late-2015 to 2017. TV Fights returned for one round during the 2018 Movie Fights Live Extravaganza benefiting Women in Film.
Gamer Fights EditGamer Fights, hosted by Matt Raub, debuted on June 17, 2016 and aired every Friday. The show was made in collaboration with the Smosh Games channel, which, at the time, was owned by the same parent company as Screen Junkies. Gamer Fights followed the same format as Movie Fights.
The first six episodes of Gamer Fights were pre-taped. They were fact-checked by Nikole Z. After this, most episodes aired live on Screen Junkies Plus and were fact-checked by Kristen Brancaccio. Starting with episode 6, approximately once a month, episodes were also made available on Smosh Games' YouTube channel.  In total, 22 episodes of Gamer Fights were produced, all in 2016. Gamer Fights returned for one round during the 2018 Movie Fights Live Extravaganza benefiting Women in Film.
Movie Fights: The Home Game Edit
Movie Fights used to be available as a card game. The game was created as a reward for founding Screen Junkies Plus subscribers. You can watch a video of Brianne Chandler and Stacy Howard playing the home game here.
Movie Fights episodes have been made using several special formats, including:
- Drunk Movie Fights - The contestants consumed copious amounts of alcohol while debating.
- Stoned Movie Fights - The contestants appeared very chill, but there was no on screen drug use.
- Weird Movie Fights - The contestants were chosen especially for their ability to come up with creative joke answers.
- Blind Fights - The contestants hear the questions for the first time during the show and must come up with all their answers and arguments on the spot - often they must pick their answers out of a hat. Blind Fights are often streamed when the staff are swamped by other work commitments, as they require far less preparation than regular episodes. Many regular episodes have include one blind round, often a movie pitch in which the contestant pick random actors' names out of a hat and pitch a movie starring them.
- Last Fighter Standing - The losers of each round are out of the game for good. Only the winner moves onto the next round. New contestants come to the table. Last fighter standing wins. The order that contestants appear is determined by how many votes they get in a pre-show fan poll - popular contestants get the strategic advantage of appearing later.
- Speed Round Gauntlet - Similar to Last Fighter Standing: losers leave the table and the winner moves onto the next question. Uses speed round questions. The order of contestants is chosen by the producers.
- Debut Deathmatch - All new contestants compete in one regular round each. The winners of each regular round fight it out in the final round.
- ComicCon Fights - The contestants compete in heats and the winners of each heat fight in a regular round to determine the overall winner. At ComicCon, the regular rounds are shorter than in the studio due to time constraints. Also, the winners of each round are determined solely by popular vote.
- Fan Fights - Standard format, but the contestants are fans.
- Time Travel episodes - standard episode format, but the contestants maintain the charade that they are recording the episode in the past. Contestants are only allowed to make arguments and pop culture references that someone in that year would understand. Two time travel episodes have been recorded: 1999 and 1994. Both episodes were pre-recorded and released over the end of year break. Time Travel episodes had a very playful tone, and included lots of historical irony. That is, the contestants satirically endorsed choices that were ludicrous by contemporary standards, but would have made sense in the past. See also: vault episode, a page about the similar Honest Trailers trope.
- Classic Movie Fights - standard episode format, but the questions focus on older films (defined as pre-1980). Classic film lover Alicia Malone hosted 3 episodes of Classic Movie Fights. Esteemed film critic Leonard Maltin appeared as contestant in one episode. The episodes were streamed in black and white, and the hosts/contestants sometimes wore glamorous clothing. Classic Movie Fights also returned for one round during the 2018 Movie Fights Live Extravaganza, featuring Leonard Maltin.
Dozens of people have competed in Movie Fights over the years. Contestants typically consist of a mix of Screen Junkies employees and guests (usually hosts from other YouTube channels). Regular contestants (past and present) include Dan Murrell, Spencer Gilbert, Joe Starr, Lon Harris, Hal Rudnick, Andy Signore, Roth Cornet, Mike Carlson, Marc Andrekyo, Alicia Malone, Coy Jandreau, Roger Barr, Nick Mundy, Mark Ellis, Kristian Harloff, Clarke Wolfe, Ed Greer, Sasha Perl-Raver, Trisha Hershberger, JTE, Billy Business, Greg Alba, Ken Napzok, Cucumber, Julia Prescott, Cameron Rice, Vanessa Gritton, Erika Ishii, Emma Fyffe and many others. The show has featured some celebrity contestants including Kevin Smith, Elijah Wood, Tony Revolori, Seth Rogen, Kumail Nanjiani and others.
The Movie Fights Belt Edit
Periodically, contestants will compete in "Title Matches" to win the Movie Fights Championship Belt. There is no selection criteria for who is eligible for the belt; it's mostly just based on the producers think are the strongest fighters. Likewise, there is no criteria for how often these title matches occur; it's mostly just based on when the producers feel is a good time to have one. The current Movie Fights champion is Dan Murrell. Previous champions include Cucumber, a
puppet felted friend, and Spencer Gilbert, a human.
Movie Fights Live Extravaganza Edit
In May 2018, Screen Junkies ran the Movie Fights Live Extravaganza fundraiser benefiting the Women in Film. The epic 3.5 hour show was a veritable Infinity War of over 50 Screen Junkies alumni. It culminated with a
puppet felted friend, Cucumber, winning the Movie Fights championship belt. He totally deserved it. The Screen Junkies community together raised over $38,000 for charity.
#OwlNation is a running joke that commenced in 2018. During the June 7, 2018 episode ("Movie Fights: Honest Trailers Edition"), host Hal Rudnick observed that he was wearing an owl-themed pin and Movie Fights writer/researcher Lon Harris was an wearing owl-themed t-shirt. Hal then proceeded to jokingly refer to creating an owl-based website with Lon while shilling for SquareSpace. This then transformed into Hal regularly greeting the audience with the line "Hoot! Hoot! Where my owls at?" and calling out #OwlNation. Hal has also brought a owl plushy (Percival) onto the show many times.
Movie Fights viewers have embraced #OwlNation and have sent in photoshopped images of the hosts' heads on the owls from Zack Snyder's animated film The Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole during the show. Adherents of #OwlNation call themselves "Ga'Hooligans," a portmanteau of Ga'Hoole and Hooligan.
Notes and references Edit
- ↑ Dan Murrell Interview - 1 on 1 with Kristian Harloff [Podcast] YouTube, November 22, 2018
- ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApON6w9K0yo
- ↑ I got this info from this excellent Wikibooks sandbox. Seriously, it's amazing! You need to go there!
- ↑ I lifted a lot of these facts nearly word-for-word from this awesome Wikibooks Sandbox. If you want to know more about Gamer Fights, please look at that page.
See also Edit
- The Screen Junkies Show
- Honest Trailers
- Flick Bait
- Screen Junkies Roasts
- Interns of F.I.E.L.D.
- Screen Junkies
- Screen Junkies News
- Screen Junkies Plus
- New Movie Fights Playlist on YouTube (includes episodes from 2017 on)
- Old Movie Fights Playlist on YouTube (includes episodes from 2014 - 2017)
- List of Movie Fights episodes on Wikipedia - A fantastic page that includes the name of every episode, the contestants, the hosts and the winners. Highly recommended.
- Wikibooks Sandbox about Movie Fights - Another fantastic page that includes detailed stats and rankings about Movie Fights, TV Fights and Gamer Fights. Highly recommended.
- TV Tropes' page about Movie Fights - Another fantastic page that includes short descriptions of dozens of funny and awesome things that have happened on the show over the years. Highly recommended.
- Best Movie Fights Moments (2014 - 2016) - 90 minute video originally posted on Screen Junkies Plus.
- Movie Fights series page on IMDb - You can rate and review every single episode here
- Screen Junkies Movie Fights Wikia - The wikia needs love!