19 movies inspired by internet sensations

These ideas dominated the internet before they hit the big screen.

Hollywood has always tried to find different sources of inspiration over the years, be it books, graphic novels, video games or even viral videos on the internet.


With the release of A24’s brand new movie, Marcel the shell with shoes onI decided to put together 19 films that started their way to the cinema on the worldwide web.


Marcel the shell with shoes on


This 2022 A24 release is based on two short films from the early 2010s that together have been viewed more than 43 million times. SNL alumni Jenny Slate as the voice of the titular crustacean.



A24 / Alamy

This provocative 2021 drama starring Riley Keough and Taylour Paige is an adaptation of an unpredictable 2015 Twitter thread (from @_zolarmoon) that spread like wildfire.



Universal Pictures / Alamy

Andres Muschietti’s short film, Mom, was a festival favorite in the late ’00s, but the film connected with the public online with director Guillermo del Toro expressing his approval before encouraging the feature film adaptation with Universal.


The Death of Dick Long


While it would be criminal to reveal what viral video this pitch-black comedy is based on, if you’ve got the guts to see this insane ride from Daniel Scheinert (of Daniels, the directing duo behind Everything everywhere at once), it is highly recommended that you do this.


Slender man

Screen Gems / Alamy

The official adaptation of the hugely iconic creepypasta story, this snakebit production was a commercial and critical disappointment upon its release in 2018.



20th Century Studios / Alamy

This direct-to-video action movie starring Danny Trejo was particularly inspired by the 2010 AC Transit Bus Fight video that exploded on YouTube, though the movie eventually had more legs with two sequels that saw Danny Glover drop out shortly after. .



20th Century Studios / Alamy

Deadpool was a favorite Marvel character for years, even appearing in a bastardized format in X-Men Origins: Wolverine before Fox bet on his solo outing, a decision heavily motivated by the internet’s overwhelmingly positive response to leaked test footage of an ultra-violent car chase scene.


Lights out

Warner Bros. Photos / Alamy

David F. Sandberg’s 2013 horror film won the Best Director award as part of the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge before racking up a million views on YouTube a few months later and catching the eye of modern-day horror master James Wan. Of course, the rest is history, with Wan producing a hit adaptation of the short film in 2016 before inviting Sandberg to follow him to the conjure Universe with the sequel to Annabelle and the DCEU with the Shazam! movies.



A24 / Alamy

It all started with a podcast, when Kevin Smith and production partner Scott Mosier discussed a bizarre viral Gumtree article about a man offering free rent to a tenant who would dress up as a walrus. Smith would clearly push the concept into darker territory, and with the hashtag #walrusyes, he would manifest this cult horror movie starring Justin Long, Michael Parks, Genesis Rodriguez, and Johnny Depp.


We’re all going to the World’s Fair

Utopia / Alamy

The culture of terrifying viral videos, TikTok challenges and creepypasta permeates every frame of Jane Schoenbrun’s horror film about a lonely teenage girl who takes part in the supposedly deadly “world’s fair” challenge.


safety not guaranteed

Film District / Alamy

It took 15 years for the legend of a Backwoods Home Magazine joke ad to circulate and grow on the Internet, before becoming the basis of Colin Trevorrow’s critically acclaimed romantic comedy.



Lionsgate / Alamy

Horror fans have searched high and low for the truth behind the allegedly real Thai ‘murder holiday’ website on the dark web that inspired Eli Roth’s wildly successful (and controversial) sophomore film.


The Pizzagate Massacre


Originally dubbed “Duncan” before the distributor opted for a more exploitative title, this dark satire is heavily inspired by numerous conspiracy theories circulated online by QAnon, including sex cults and lizard people, which led to the all-too-real “Pizzagate” incident at Comet. Ping Pong late 2016.


Always watching: a story about marble hornets

Gravitas Ventures / Alamy

Inspired by the Slender Man mythos, this critically panned horror film from the YouTube ARG channel, Marble Hornets, starred Freddy vs. Jason‘s Chris Marquette, hellboy‘s Doug Jones, and American horror story‘s Alexandra Breckinridge.


mystery team

Roadside Attractions / Alamy

Derrick Comedy took their momentum from their viral sketch comedy channel on YouTube and independently produced this 2009 comedy that landed the group’s breakout star, Donald Glover, his first starring role.


Winnebago Man

Kino Lorber

The viral fascination with Jack Rebney’s profane outtakes for his Winnebago outlet began trading VHS tapes in the 1990s before exploding worldwide on YouTube, eventually inspiring director Ben Steinbauer to shoot the so-called “Angriest Man in the World.” tracks for this 2009 documentary.


Karen (202)

Quiver Distribution

Taryn Manning stars in Coke Daniels’ sloppy 2021 thriller, born of the wave of “Karen” videos that have swept the internet in recent years, depicting the gross overreactions of racist and straightforward white women to people of color in public situations. .


District 9

TriStar Pictures / Alamy

Neill Blomkamp was set to debut with a film adaptation of the globally popular Halo video game series, but in the wake of its disbandment, he turned to his successful short film, Living in Joburgwho widely connected with sci-fi fans on YouTube and served as the blueprint for his first hit movie, District 9


I hope they serve beer in hell?

Rudius Movies

The questionable ethical party brother, Tucker Max, gained a lot of attention online in the early ’00s with his self-centered tales of collegiate debauchery, which he later turned into a bestseller and adapted into a lackluster film of the same name.

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