If you haven’t already heard the news: one of the biggest surprise hit horror games of last year, Five Nights at Freddy’s, is being made into a feature-length film by Warner Bros. While you yourself may not be aware of the Internet phenomenon, your kids, your friend’s kids, or those darn skaters at the park are probably fully aware of it because a bunch of people screamed into a microphone while playing and recorded it.
As a game on its own, Five Nights at Freddy’s is extremely simplistic, and built almost entirely upon jump scares. You are left as a nightwatchman for a Chuck E. Cheese-like funhouse from hell. At night, the animatronics come alive and want to stuff you into a suit, killing you in the process. The only way to avoid this grizzly fate is to manage your power levels to close doors, monitor cameras, and just survive five nights. Part of the charm of the game is just how simple it is, but if it wasn’t for YouTubers clamoring to play it and rack up millions of views would it have caught on like it did? Probably not.
A large part of Five Nights at Freddy’s‘ audience comes from people who have never actually played it, but instead sat down to watch someone else do it and be brought nearly to tears from fear. If the game never caught on with YouTube personalities and been a financial success for creator Scott Cawthon, it likely would not have spawned such rapid sequels and now this movie deal with Warner Bros.
The person primarily responsible for kicking off the Five Nights at Freddy’s firestorm was Mark “Markiplier” Fischbach, a YouTube personality best known for playing horror games that has over 7 million subscribers and counting. His first Five Nights at Freddy’s video came 7 months ago and has amassed over 28 million views since. Since then he’s gone on to make over a dozen videos based on the game and its two sequels – each video easily passing 5 million views and some times climbing past 10 million.
It’s in these videos, or more specifically in their comment sections and communities built around them, where the characters of Five Nights at Freddy’s began to really come to life. Thanks to Markiplier and other popular YouTubers constantly playing, yelling, and “interacting” with these characters, communities have spawned for the sole purpose of discussing the merits of the animatronics, to roleplaying as the characters, and everything in between. By all accounts, YouTubers made a Five Nights at Freddy’s movie a reality.
So, back to the original question: should any of them star in a movie? Given the intimate nature and down-to-earth approach of YouTube Let’s Players, it might not occur to a lot of their audiences that they are just acting. In the case of Markiplier and the countless other YouTubers that are known for playing horror games, they are already acting in a horror movie in a sense – just in a very simplified and exaggerated sense.
It could also be a no-brainer financially as well. Each of these YouTubers, whether its Markiplier or someone else Warner Bros. could try and recruit, have millions upon millions of people waiting for their videos every day. A campy horror movie based around animatronics stalking people could fairly easily be made PG-13, allowing all of their teenage fans (which the large majority are) to see the film on their own. Even if it needs to be rated R, I can tell you as someone that recently went to PAX where a Markiplier panel was held, there were a massive amount of adult fans waiting hours in line just to see him in person.
In short, my answer would be yes. Give them a role. I’m not saying have them star or even be a headliner, but give them something minor, mention it in the TV ads, plaster it all over YouTube, and Warner Bros. could be raking in easy money no matter what the quality of the movie ends up being. At the very least, Markiplier and others deserve a nod for making Five Nights at Freddy’s a popular enough franchise to warrant a movie release.
No matter who does or doesn’t end up with a role in the movie, Five Nights at Freddy’s is still in early stages of development, and seeking writers for the projects. The film will be produced by Roy Lee, Seth Grahame-Smith, and David Katzenberg. The three of them are also working on an adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel It. According to Grahame-Smith, they are hoping to make Five Nights at Freddy’s “insane, terrifying, and weirdly adorable.”