Making fun of Hollywood turned into a million-dollar business for Screen Junkies' 'Honest Trailers'

Key Points
  • "Honest Trailers" is an Emmy-nominated YouTube series that lovingly skewers movies and TV shows by pointing out their flaws in mock trailers.
  • The series and four other shows have brought in millions of dollars in revenue from advertising, licensing and syndication thanks to their popularity. "Honest Trailer" episodes alone have been seen more than 156 million times.
Andy Signore poses for a portrait during Comic-Con 2017 at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego on July 20, 2017, in San Diego.
Robby Klein | Getty Images

Andy Signore never set out to turn his eye for finding glaring flaws in movies and TV shows into a business. But his show "Honest Trailers" has turned into one of the most popular online series. Now Hollywood and brands are clamoring to be a part of it.

Screen Junkies' "Honest Trailers" is an Emmy-nominated weekly series that gently mocks popular films and TV series in movie-trailer form. The videos, which are narrated by voice actor "Epic Voice Guy" Jon Bailey, poke fun at everything from "Game of Thrones" to "Titanic" to "Frozen." To date, the fake trailers have been seen more than 156 million times on YouTube.

"We're just saying the things that are actually true about the movie," creator Signore said.

The show is the most well-known of media brand Screen Junkies' five video series, which collectively bring in millions of dollars in revenue from advertising, licensing and syndication thanks to their popularity, according to parent company Defy Media.

Signore launched "Honest Trailers" about five years ago to mock the "Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace" 3-D rerelease.

"I don't know who was watching back then, but we didn't consider anyone involved in the movies were watching the ['Honest Trailer'] shorts. Now they are the first people that watch the shorts," he said.

Getting skewered has turned into a badge of honor for some filmmakers. "Honest Trailers" got "Kong: Skull Island" director Jordan Vogt-Roberts to write and star in his own blistering critique of his own film a few weeks after he criticized website CinemaSins for being "oddly nasty" to his film and other monster movies. "John Wick" directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski jokingly told the team that they write and direct specifically not to get "roasted" on "Honest Trailers." Michael Bolton sang parody songs on its "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" video — which he also used to promote his latest album. Some directors have even suggested in advance to "Honest Trailers" how to make fun of their films, Signore said.

Its biggest get was when actor Ryan Reynolds messaged Signore on Twitter to see how he could get involved in the parody of the film "Deadpool," in which he starred. Signore had reached out to studio 20th Century Fox, but had not gotten a response. However, Reynolds had seen fans tweeting him about the series, and reached out personally to see if he could help independent of any marketing campaign.

"It helped us get cred," Signore said. "Wow, we got the biggest star of the year to roast themselves in his movie!"

The popularity of the series has gotten the attention of advertisers, including which paid for a special branded video at the end of one of its episodes. It received more than 10 million impressions, meaning the ad was pulled up from its server. Another specially made Pizza Hut ad that aired before "Honest Trailer" video was seen more than 3.3 million times.

Nine times out of 10 filmmakers love the parodies. However, Signore has heard through the Hollywood grapevine of a couple of people who haven't agreed with everything he said —although they've never told him to his face.

"There's always one person who doesn't enjoy the joke," he said.