JANUARY 22, 2018 7:00AM PT
By Todd Spangler
Fans of YouTube viral phenom Poppy are about to get a deeper look at the inscrutable character thanks to YouTube Red’s “I’m Poppy” — although it will probably raise more questions than it answers.
YouTube will host the world premiere of “I’m Poppy” at the Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday, Jan. 23, with a screening of the 24-minute pilot as part of the festival’s indie episodic track. (You can watch the trailer above or at this link.) That will be followed by its Jan. 25 debut on the YouTube Red subscription service. It’s set up to be a series, but for now “I’m Poppy” exists only as the single episode.
In the pilot, Poppy — an odd young pop singer and internet star who may or may not be an android — signs a deal with a TV network exec wowed by her videos and online following. But her success with “The Poppy Show” stirs envy in Charlotte, an actual mannequin who gets a makeover to look like the object of her obsession. Later, Poppy (spoiler alert?) signs a pact with Satan who promises she will become “the most famous girl in the entire world,” after which a fanatical religious cult tries to abduct her from the TV studio.
“I’m Poppy,” ostensibly a surreal satire of pop culture, internet media and fame, is directed and written by Titanic Sinclair (real name: Corey Mixter). He’s the creator of the Poppy video series on YouTube, which has garnered more than 250 million lifetime views, with singer Poppy Chan (born Moriah Pereira).
The film’s cast includes Poppy Chan, Samm Levine (“Freaks and Geeks”), Dan Hildebrand (“Game of Thrones,” “Still Star-Crossed”), Brad Carter (“True Detective,” “Sons of Anarchy”), Kofi Boakye, and Madison Lawlor.
Since hitting YouTube in 2014, the Poppy videos — featuring her blasé catchphrase, “I’m Poppy” — have spawned confusion, hilarity and general fascination. Reactions have included a parody by top YouTuber PewDiePie skewering the performance-art conceit.
“I’m Poppy” is executive produced by Geffen Records’ Nick Groff (Poppy’s manager) and Jennifer Goodridge of Beyond Ideas. The pilot was produced by Goodridge and Bay Dariz (“Welcome to Happiness”). It features an original score by Titanic Sinclair and the song “Is This Real?” performed by Poppy and written by Sinclair, Poppy Chan, and Chris Greatti.