Buzzfeed recently announced a partnership with film studio Lionsgate to create “socially relevant” feature films for its millennial and Gen-Z audience. The partnership will be digital only, meaning none of Buzzfeed’s films will hit theaters but instead will be watched by audiences online, with the first movie set to launch in 2021. While the joint union helps Buzzfeed take a large step towards traditional entertainment, it also allows Lionsgate to create a digital footprint and set itself apart from other established entertainment brands. Overall, the partnership allows both companies to diversify their respective digital reach and test out a new type of content format to engage entertainment-hungry audiences, according to a Gartner report on the topic.
Many of the films in the works will be based upon content currently running through Buzzfeed. For example, popular segments such as cooking show Tasty, and fashion and lifestyle channel As/Is, could inspire some of its new films. Buzzfeed will tap into its extensive audience analytics to develop movies curated to audience preferences and will also base its release model off of the data. Creating a film partnership will be a new endeavor for the media brand, though this is not Buzzfeed’s first entertainment collaboration. The digital brand has worked with Netflix in the past and in 2016 signed a development deal with Warner Brothers for a movie based off a Buzzfeed article. However, the partnership with Lionsgate puts Buzzfeed in the leading role, as it allows the platform to directly release its own films to its established and loyal audience. Given Buzzfeed gains over 3 billion content views per month and reaches a total global audience of 520 million, its new films are primed to capture audience attention.
The closing of theaters around the world during the Coronavirus pandemic could benefit Buzzfeed and Lionsgate as it made consumers more used to watching films from home. Through their new partnership, both brands can make the most of changing consumer preferences to continue bringing new movies to viewers right on their laptops and smartphones, and begin moving the film industry in a digital direction.