Screen Junkies is a YouTube channel focused on movies and television. It is owned by FANDOM, the fan wiki hosting service. Screen Junkies is best known for producing Honest Trailers, a series of short comedy videos that satirize movies and TV shows. Honest Trailers has been nominated for four Emmys, in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Screen Junkies was originally created in 2008 as an online text-based movie magazine, ScreenJunkies.com. The brand expanded into shortform video content starting in 2011. Screen Junkies YouTube channel is closely associated with its two sister channels Fandom Entertainment and Fandom Games. In addition, from 2015 to 2017, Screen Junkies also ran a paid subscription service called Screen Junkies Plus. As of July 2019, Screen Junkies main has over 6.6 million subscribers and over 2,200,000,000 views.
Company history Edit
Break Media Edit
Screen Junkies was originally created as a text-based website (ScreenJunkies.com) in late 2008. The website featured articles, news, recaps and reviews of movies, TV shows and pop culture
The Screen Junkies main YouTube channel was created on October 3, 2008. However, it did not start uploading content until 2011. The company was originally founded and owned by Break Media (the company behind the website Break.com) and was designed to target a young male demographic.
Defy Media Edit
In October 2013, Break Media merged with Alloy Digital to become Defy Media. As part of Defy Media, Screen Junkies had close ties with other Defy Media brands, especially Smosh Games and Clevver which had offices in the same building. Some employees, like Spencer Gilbert, worked simultaneously on Screen Junkies' Honest Trailers series and Smosh Games' Honest Game Trailers series.
In July, 2018, Screen Junkies was purchased by FANDOM for an undisclosed amount. FANDOM (also known as Wikia.Inc) is the for-profit offshoot of Wikipedia, and the company that powers this very wiki. According to an article published by Variety, FANDOM had been "interested in teaming with Screen Junkies for about a year." FANDOM's acquisition of Screen Junkies is part of its ongoing pivot to video. FANDOM describes its pivot to video as modernization: "This is not about us becoming a video company, but rather about diversifying our content to keep up with user and advertiser expectations." FANDOM's chief content officer Dorth Raphaely said “We’ve been targeting potential ways to get into the YouTube business. We debated build-versus-buy, and in the end it made more business sense to partner with someone who’s built to reach exactly the audience we are."
In November 2018, shortly after the sale, Screen Junkies' former parent company Defy Media ceased operations. Screen Junkies was affected because they subleased their office space and some equipment from Defy. In February 2019, the Defy Media shutdown meant Screen Junkies lost access to their Screen Junkies News studio.
As a result of the acquisition by FANDOM, Screen Junkies expanded the kinds of content it produced. In March 2019, Joe Starr explained the evolution of the channel: "Our new sort of relationship with FANDOM has sort of given us some opportunity to push a little bit, try some bigger stuff, try some different stuff which has been really cool for us. ... We want to continue being able to sort of push that envelope and grow with you guys." The new formats included Power Levels, an animated science show, and Fandom Uncovered, a documentary series about fans, cosplayers, and festivals. In April 2019, the Screen Junkies News channel was officially rebranded as Fandom Entertainment.
Company identity Edit
Screen Junkies' offices and studios are located on Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA. For many years, the GM of Screen Junkies was Michael Chiang. From 2018, Chiang became SVP at FANDOM. The size of the Screen Junkies team has varied over the years, with around 20 people working at Screen Junkies in any given week. This includes some permanent staff members and many contractors. See list of notable Screen Junkies people for more information on key contributors.
Screen Junkies has always been part of a larger company, unlike many other YouTube channels that started out as small projects pursued by individuals. Screen Rant compared Screen Junkies' approach to other YouTube companies like CinemaSins, writing "There is a major difference in the two companies right from inception, though. Whereas Sins is the product of friends chasing a single idea, Screen Junkies is a subsidiary of Defy Media that set out to explicitly build its brand; go back to the start of the channel and you find a slew of playful movie-themed videos attempting to tap into the zeitgeist, with Honest Trailers emerging as a success almost by accident after a single video mocking the 3D re-release of The Phantom Menace. And while SJ has since evolved into a massive network with multiple shows, a second news channel (formerly Clevver Movies) and a paid subscription service, as well as fan meetups and SDCC events, Sins remains at its core the same thing; they actually have more subscribers, but that only highlights the different types of success the pair get."
The book The Politics of Ephemeral Digital Media suggests that Screen Junkies is an example of a channel characterized by an "overall playfulness" including "parodies and playful takes on movies and media products" and other seemingly "fannish or amateurish endeavours" (page 144). The authors note a serious business model underlies this playful exterior.
Main Shows Edit
The Screen Junkies YouTube channel has over 6.6 million subscribers and over 2,200,000,000 views. The main channel hosts several shows including Honest Trailers, Honest Trailers Commentaries, Movie Fights, The Screen Junkies Show, Power Levels and Cram It!
Honest Trailers is a comedy series of fake trailers that satirize movies and TV shows. Honest Trailers are short videos, usually 3-7 minutes in length, that combine the visual style of movie trailers with parody voice-over to humorously reveal the true nature of a movie or show. Honest Trailers is Screen Junkies' most successful show in terms of both view-count and critical acclaim. Honest Trailers has been nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Shortform Variety Series" four times, in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Honest Trailers has also won two Streamy Awards - Best Writing in 2016, and Best Collaboration in 2017, shared with actor Ryan Reynolds.
Honest Trailers debuted in February 2012, created by Andy Signore and Brett Weiner, and shepherded by Break Media's Head of Programming Mitch Rotter. Since 2012, over 300 Honest Trailers have been produced. The Honest Trailers series is a source of over 1 billion total views. The most well-known episode is probably the Honest Trailer for Deadpool, which included a surprise appearance from Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds as the foul-mouthed, fourth-wall-breaking superhero himself. Some Hollywood directors have stated they are fans of the Honest Trailers series, for example Joe and Anthony Russo.
The narrator of Honest Trailers is currently Jon Bailey. The persona of the narrator is usually referred to as Epic Voice Guy. Epic Voice Guy is considered a fictional character in his own right, as he has a fictional family, history and personality totally distinct from Bailey's. The series is written and produced by a team of people. The current team of writers consists of Spencer Gilbert, Joe Starr, Danielle Radford and Lon Harris.
Movie Fights is a monthly competition in which three guests debate topics related to movies and pop culture. Some episodes feature serious, thoughtful arguments, while others have a sillier, comedic bent. Episodes typically run 60-80 minutes. Movie Fights was created by Andy Signore and first began production in 2014 as a weekly show. Over 200 episodes of Movie Fights have been produced. Movie Fights is also available as a podcast.
Movie Fights is currently hosted by Hal Rudnick with the support of fact-checker Dan Murrell and social media ambassador 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.
See the Movie Fights main page for more information.
The Screen Junkies Show is an entertainment/comedy web series created in 2011 by Andy Signore and Brett Weiner. It is an assorted collection of panel discussions, comedic celebrity interviews, and comedic stunts related to movies. The Screen Junkies Show first started production in 2011. It used to be published weekly, from 2018 on it was published about twice a month. The host of The Screen Junkies Show is Hal Rudnick.
The Screen Junkies Show is probably best known for a 2012 video in which Christopher Walken read the words of child reality star Honey Boo Boo, a 2014 video in which the host smuggled a camera into Shia LaBeouf's performance art project #IAMSORRY, and a 2015 video in which Dwayne Johnson was the surprise marriage celebrant for a real wedding.
For more information, see The Screen Junkies Show main page.
Other shows Edit
The Screen Junkies YouTube channel also periodically releases other shows including:
- Honest Trailers Commentaries - a weekly panel show in which a group of Honest Trailers writers watch and react to an episode of Honest Trailers. Commentaries used to be published on the paid subscription service Plus, then moved to SJNews, before finally being moved to the Screen Junkies channel in July 2019. See the main page about Honest Trailers Commentaries for more information.
- Power Levels - an animated show narrated by Roxy Striar where fictional characters are pitted against one another in a series of theoretical challenges in order to determine which is more powerful. The scientific and mathematical calculations used in Power Levels are provided by researcher and scientist Justin Christensen. Power Levels began production in 2019. See main Power Levels page for more information.
- Cram It!, written by Lon Harris, which humorously abridges long-running movie and TV franchises to coincide with the release of new installments or seasons. Watch the complete Cram It! playlist on YouTube.
- Serious Questions, written by Spencer Gilbert, which asks humorously nitpicky and trivial questions about films. Watch the complete Serious Questions playlist on YouTube.
- Flick Bait, which was a variety/sketch show that ran for 21 episodes in 2017. Visit the main Flick Bait page for more information.
Sister Channels Edit
Fandom Entertainment EditLike Screen Junkies, Fandom Entertainment is a YouTube channel focused on movies and television. Is has over 1.5 million subscribers and over 650,000,000 views.
Screen Junkies News was created in 2016 as a re-branded version of the channel ClevverMovies. At this time, both Screen Junkies and Clevver Media were owned by the same parent company, Defy Media. After Screen Junkies was acquired by the fan-wiki hosting company, FANDOM, Screen Junkies News was rebranded as Fandom Entertainment. Under Fandom's ownership, the channel continued its existing shows but also expanded and evolved with new show formats.
Screen Junkies News/Fandom Entertainment covers pop culture news with an informal, comedic bent, although it also covers serious news with gravitas. The channel's shows are strongly personality-driven. The channel's main show is Screen Junkies Universe (SJU), a daily 30 minute panel show where four hosts discuss multiple topical news stories. The Editor-in-Chief of Screen Junkies News/FANDOM is Roth Cornet.
Fandom Games Edit
Fandom Games is a YouTube channel focused on games. The channel produces Honest Game Trailers and many other gaming-themed videos. Fandom Games has uploaded over 2000 videos. The channel has over 900, 000 subscribers and over 850 million views. The bulk of those views (around 670 million!) come from old episodes of Honest Game Trailers.
Fandom Games was officially launched in June 3, 2019, as a re-branded version of Curse Entertainment. The Curse Entertainment channel was originally created on June 5, 2012.
Please see the Fandom Games page for more information.
Screen Junkies Plus (SJ+ or Plus) was Screen Junkies' paid streaming service which ran from 2015 - 2017. Plus offered a slate of original, exclusive programming available through either the website or an app for a monthly subscription fee of $4.99. Shows on Plus included the original scripted sitcom Interns of F.I.E.L.D., the animated comedy series After Credits, the monthly pop culture parody Screen Junkies Roasts, and numerous panel and talk shows focused on movies and TV.
Screen Junkies Plus was created in late 2015 in an effort to grow the Screen Junkies brand. In addition, it made the channel less dependent on Facebook and YouTube ads for revenue. Screen Junkies Plus offered fans more ways to interact directly with the Screen Junkies hosts, for example, by Skype-calling during live shows.
Screen Junkies Plus ceased operations in 2017. It was not profitable for a variety of reasons. The content remained available until early 2018, when Defy Media stopped supporting the website/app. In 2018, the cost of setting up Screen Junkies Plus was described as overly-aggression expansion on the part of Defy Media, and cited as a contributing factor in Defy Media's shuttering. All the Plus content still exists, but Screen Junkies currently has no way of releasing it.
See the Screen Junkies Plus page for more information, including a complete list of Plus shows.
ScreenJunkies.com was an online movie magazine. It primarily featured text-based pop culture articles, news, TV recaps and movie reviews. ScreenJunkies.com first started publishing written content starting from 2008. From 2011 on, it also linked to video content published on the Screen Junkies YouTube channel, in addition to publishing original articles. ScreenJunkies.com greatly reduced its staff and its volume of text-based content from late 2015 on, when the domain name was co-opted by the Screen Junkies Plus paid video streaming service.
ScreenJunkies.com was a casualty of the "pivot to video" trend that commenced in 2015, during which many websites reduced their volume of written content in preference to video content. In later years, it was revealed that the "pivot to video" trend was based on inaccurate data about the popularity of videos on third-party websites such as Facebook. ScreenJunkies.com is occasionally referred to on Screen Junkies Universe in this context, in which the presenters lament their colleagues that lost their jobs based on inflated/falsified Facebook data.
All remaining ScreenJunkies.com content was removed in 2018 when Defy Media stopped supporting the website for business reasons. This content is now only available via the Wayback Machine.
Screen Junkies on Facebook Edit
Screen Junkies has multiple pages on Facebook: their Screen Junkies page has around 400,000 followers, their Screen Junkies News page has around 550,000 followers, while their Honest Trailers page has around 450,000 followers.
Screen Junkies upload many of their videos to Facebook, where they attract a significant amount of views. Screen Junkies also release some videos exclusively on Facebook, including The Dailies, which are usually short, shareable videos, often related to memes. Screen Junkies has also made a selection of Honest Trailers Anime available exclusively on Facebook.
There is often a massive gulf between the popularity of videos posted to Facebook compared to other platforms. For example, in 2018, Screen Junkies' The Dailies Stranger Things meme "trying to find my will to go to the gym like..." attracted over 27 million views on Facebook, but only 20k views on Twitter. Likewise, some Honest Trailers attract significantly more views on Facebook than they do on YouTube, for example Every Wes Anderson Movie has 2 million views on YouTube, and 5.3 million views on Facebook.
Signore incident Edit
On October 8, 2017, Screen Junkies boss and SVP of Content at Defy Media Andy Signore was fired for what was described as "egregious and intolerable behavior" (article via Variety). Multiple women came forward on social media to accuse him of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment, plus one woman accused him of attempted sexual assault. The alleged attempted sexual assault and two other complaints had reportedly been raised to Defy Media's HR department months beforehand but no action was taken by the company (details of most of the allegations can be found here). Signore's firing happened soon after allegations about Harvey Weinstein were made public, and is considered part of the #MeToo movement and The Weinstein Effect.
All Screen Junkies channels remained dark for three weeks after the incident while the employees decided whether they would continue with the company. Signore's image was removed from the thumbnails of several videos on both channels following his termination, and several videos on both channels featuring Signore were deleted out of sensitivity. This included changing the thumbnail on the Titanic and Game of Thrones Honest Trailers to be less objectifying, deleting several videos filmed at Comic Con that featured hosts objectifying female cosplayers, deleting a video review of the film Baywatch in which Signore made objectifying remarks about the cast, deleting an episode of SJU in which Signore told a Playboy Bunny story, and deleting all episodes of the sketch show Flick Bait. Some episodes of Flick Bait included comedy sketches that appeared dubious in light of the accusations. Some shows permanently ceased production after Signore's firing, including Flick Bait and TV Fights. Movie Fights went on a three month hiatus, but returned with a retooled format and a new host in 2018.
Upon their return to work in late October 2017, Screen Junkies released two videos specifically addressing the incident (one and two). In the videos, the hosts expressed support for the women who came forward. They explained the workplace changes which were to be introduced to ensure a similar situation could never happen again. This included a third party to look into how Defy Media handled the complaints, sexual harassment training for all staff, a fan interaction code of conduct and the commitment to be "more a part of the world." The Screen Junkies hosts linked the Signore situation to the wider cultural shift regarding sexual harassment happening all across the entertainment industry, as well as the broader problem of workplace harassment in general. Screen Junkies contributors expressed a willingness to examine how their own practices invited divisiveness, and strove to rebuild trust with the fan community. They also endeavored to improve the culture of the Screen Junkies community through changes to programming and comment moderation. Their video A Candid Discussion About Sexual Harassment discussed what sexual harassment is, how power dynamics affect things, and how people can respond in supportive ways. In May 2018, Screen Junkies ran the Movie Fights Live Extravaganza fundraiser benefiting the charity Women in Film. The Screen Junkies community together raised over $38,000.
Screen Junkies have not made any further statements about the situation. More information about the situation and how it has developed since 2017 can be found on the Andy Signore page.
List of references Edit
- ↑ Patel, S. November 13, 2018. ‘We wanted people to know we were big’: How Defy Media went from YouTube heavyweight to abrupt shutdown. DigiDay.
- Screen Junkies YouTube channel
- Screen Junkies Twitter account
- Screen Junkies Facebook page
- Honest Trailers Facebook page
- Screen Junkies News Facebook page
- Screen Junkies' page on Wikipedia
- Screen Junkies' page on Wikitubia, the Youtubers Wikia
- Screen Junkies podcasts available via Player.fm (Incl. Movie Fights, Watching Thrones, Knocking Dead, Flash and Friends, Debugging Mr Robot).