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How Roblox’s Growing Entertainment Division Teamed Up With Warner Bros. to Drive Gen Z to ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’

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Warner Bros. and Legendary are hoping for a monster-sized opening weekend for “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” and are tapping every method possible to pull in moviegoers, including partnering with Roblox to grab the attention of its young audience so that they will sway their parents to take them to the theater.

Over the past two weeks, Warner Bros. has been engaging Roblox users via its interactive trailer for the “Godzilla vs. King” sequel, which allows players to enter the 2D video and come out in the movie’s world of Hollow Earth. The trailer then becomes playable via an obstacle course (“obby,” in Roblox speak) where players are joined by Suko, the Mini-Kong, while navigating through the video and collecting movie-themed crystals.

For anyone who isn’t an active user of the platform or has a child who is obsessed with it, Roblox is an online platform that allows users to program and play games created by themselves or others. It’s also often used as a virtual “hangout” location, where some players spend more of their time communicating than building.

Roblox reports 71.5 million daily active users, who are spending an average of 2.4 hours a day on the platform. And the fastest growing group devoting its time to Roblox is Gen Z, the 12 to 27-year-old demographic.

Since its launch on March 13, Roblox’s “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” trailer has impressed Warner Bros. execs, with users spending an average of nearly eight minutes interacting with “Godzilla x Kong Obby,” per Warner Bros. Pictures’ head of global digital marketing Cameron Curtis.

“We find that when we immerse audiences in our content or in our trailers, they’re that much likely to then either go to their parents to ask for a ticket to ‘Godzilla x Kong’ or go buy a ticket themselves,” Curtis tells Variety.

Warner Bros. used Roblox’s survey feature to poll users on if they were more likely to go see the movie, which opens Friday, after playing the trailer. Curtis reports “the answer is overwhelmingly, ‘yes.’”

“Roblox wouldn’t be the right platform for every movie, but in ‘Godzilla x Kong,’ we have a movie that was made for everyone, that was made for families, that is meant to be experienced in theaters,” Curtis said. “So when we think about that 13-to 18-year-old audience who is on the platform and playing these games, there’s a tremendous opportunity as it relates to bringing them in and to experience our trailer this way. It becomes a conversation amongst their classmates. It becomes something that they can connect on, because they’re playing these games together.”

On top of that, there’s the added bonus of Roblox influencers who push out user-generated content surrounding the trailer on YouTube and other platforms, fueling more social media hype around the film. “Roblox has created a community and there’s a ton of creativity within that community,” Curtis said.

Jonathan Gustavii, director of strategic partnerships at Swedish studio The Gang, which developed the playable trailer for Roblox and Warner Bros., calls this Roblox partnership “the next frontier” in marketing, specifically for entertainment brands.

“They have the trailer and they can do physical events. They can do tons of things to promote their movie,” Gustavii said. “It’s the epicenter of experiencing the movie and iconic IP in an immersive setting. These environments are where the user can engage in a totally new way that has not been possible before.”

While this playable trailer is the first of its kind, Roblox has been doing collaborations with studios for years now, previously working with Warner Bros. for last summer’s release of “Barbie,” and even teaming with Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures for a “Saw” franchise experience. (That last one required verification that users were 17 or older in order to play, because kids aren’t everyone’s target demo on Roblox.)

According to Roblox head of entertainment partnerships Todd Lichten, this is just the beginning of what the platform has planned with other brands and studios.

“There are big, big projects that speak to the spirit of the theatrical marketing team paving the way for franchise teams to come in and do something that’s more persistent. We’re gonna have big updates in the next month or so.”

For now, Lichten can say that creators and directors are often approaching Roblox with ideas or requests that “are an extension of what they’ve already built.”

“When Jon Favreau and Fairview Entertainment came to the platform late last year with to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ‘Elf,’ I don’t think the intention was necessarily adaptation,” Lichten said. “It was about embracing the best components of the platform, which is community, social and gift-giving and using the holiday and this magical journey around the North Pole as a way to bring the IP back to life.”

Lichten counts the “Elf” collab among Roblox’s most successful IP partnerships, alongside “Barbie” (which gave users the chance to build dream houses and spend time in each other’s homes, “not distinguishing between real world and digital world”) and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

“The breadth is what’s really remarkable here, because Roblox is so much more than just a gaming entity,” Lichten says. “These are hangout spaces, where Nicki Minaj is hanging out with her friends, Paris Hilton’s establishing worlds. I think there’s every flavor of it, we’re just scratching the surface.”