‘Kung Fury’ Is the Perfect Film for YouTube
By Sahil Patel
By now you have either watched or at least heard of “Kung Fury,” the 30-minute action short-film from Swedish filmmaker David Sandberg that has taken the online world by storm since its YouTube debut on May 28. It’s a comedic masterpiece, sending up ’80s action-flick tropes left and right in an effort to out-do anything that has come before it.
On LaserUnicorns YouTube channel, “Kung Fury” has generated more than 14.5 million views in less than two weeks — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
According to social data provided by Tubular Labs, “Kung Fury” content (which includes the film itself, its trailer that was released prior to the film, and other videos posted by the filmmakers and fans across platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Vine, and Vimeo) has been watched more than 50 million times.
Which begs the question: is “Kung Fury” the perfect film for the web, considering the type of content that generally goes viral across the major social video sites?
“A lot of the success of ‘Kung Fury’ is due to the fact that it really rang the bell with the core internet audience,” says Damon Berger, VP of business development at Fullscreen. “However, the passalong is due to the fact that it’s just great content. People share what emotionally moves them, and this is a piece of content that got people’s attention because of its unique point-of-view and quality storytelling.”
“All content now needs to be super-sharp in its point-of-view in order to stand out,” adds Kent Nichols, an online video veteran and former director of content and talent relations at both Maker Studios and Blip. “In the noisy marketplace, boring content is dead content.”
And no one would ever call “Kung Fury,” which starts with a group of skateboarders flipping and blowing up a cop car in a barrage of gunfire, boring.
What the film’s success online, in terms of grabbing eyeballs, really speaks to is how core of a utility YouTube still is — regardless of who is trying to upend it — to both content creators and viewers on the web.
While Facebook has made its video player embeddable, YouTube is still the most-embedded player on the web. In a lot of ways, video-sharing still means YouTube, and you can see that with “Kung Fury” — because YouTube was responsible for almost all of the 50 million views on “Kung Fury” content. According to Tubular, YouTube was responsible for 47 million views of “Kung Fury” content. Facebook only generated 421,000 views in the same time-frame, while Vine and Vimeo provided 2.2 million “loops” and 608,000 views, respectively.
What’s more, there are more than 1.2 million “raw engagements” (comments, likes, etc.) on the full-film video on the LaserUnicorns channel. That is a 9% engagement rate (engagement divided by YouTube views), which is extremely high for a piece of YouTube content, according to Tubular Labs’ Allison Stern.
In other words: Even though “Kung Fury” content was available across other social platforms, people — mostly dudes, who accounted for a whopping 96% of YouTube viewership — really gravitated to it on YouTube, where most of the action was.
Of course, while YouTube has been key to the film’s success, it’s not the sole reason — a super-successful Kickstarter campaign provided a built-in audience that would watch the film no matter where Sandberg chose to release it. (In addition to YouTube, “Kung Fury” also aired on the El Rey Network in the US, and a domestic TV network in Sandberg’s home country of Sweden.)
For the filmmaker, “all of those platforms add value either in terms of licensing dollars, promotion, and eyeballs,” says Nichols.
“I think the movie has proven that content is still king,” says Berger. “It’s a fresh voice, and an incredibly well-executed creative concept in a space that is evolving to support more traditional storytelling. That is first and foremost the reason for its success.”
Header image via Kickstarter