Web series have been around for a while now, but for the most part, they've yet to reach the same level of esteem among audiences as their television counterparts. But as Internet-connected televisions and other devices continue to rise in popularity, the worlds of the Internet and television seem destined to collide: someday soon, all series might be considered web series.

This is why YouTube is putting $100 Million of their own money into the creation of original professional web video content--because they see the writing on the wall. In the future of entertainment video, it's all online... the TV and the computer become the same device, and traditional production houses won't have the built-in advantage of cable and satellite contracts to push their content to the top of the food chain.

There's big news in the world of web series today, as Warner Premier and Machimina have released the first of nine original Mortal Kombat: Legacy episodes.

You might remember Mortal Kombat: Rebirth--a viral sensation back in June of 2010. Rebirth was originally suspected to be a studio-funded spec project, intended to gauge audience interest in new live-action Mortal Kombat content. And if that's the case, then it definitely worked: audiences ate it up, especially the core demographic of young males.

However, there was also speculation that this was just another "video business card"--a demo reel created by a filmmaker with a vision in the hopes it will bring more attention to the artist. And if that's the case... then it definitely worked, because now we have Mortal Kombat: Legacy, which reteams the filmmaker with the actors from Rebirth.

In fact, that is exactly what Rebirth was all about, at least according to one of the actors involved. From Joystiq:

Actress Jeri Ryan, seen in the short playing Sonya Blade, offered further comment about the project on Twitter. "It's not a game trailer," Ryan said. "Actually was made for the director to sell WB on his vision for a reimagined MK film." She said she had "No idea yet what WB's reaction to it was."

I think it's safe to say that WB's reaction was positive, because they turned it into a web series.

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Legacy is directed by Kevin Tancharoen, who brought the world the remake of Fame. It stars Hollywood actors like Jeri Ryan (Star Trek Voyager) and Michael Jai White (Dark Knight, Spawn). And its production values are off-the-chart good for a web series. Here's episode one:

Mortal Kombat is a huge property, with legions of fans. And with a new video game on the horizon (no doubt timed carefully to coincide with the new web series), it's primed for success in ways that a lot of web series aren't.

Actually, it's done better in a few hours than most web series do in their entire runs: the video was uploaded to YouTube yesterday morning, and had almost 300,000 views by mid-afternoon (and it's still growing). That's a 13 minute video too, by the way... far longer than the usual type of clip that sees viral traction.

This can only mean good things for consumers and for creators of online video. Every time something like Mortal Kombat: Legacy succeeds, it becomes a proof of concept for web video content. Whatever stigma the phrase "web series" has carried these past several years will continue to be lifted more and more if this is the kind of content we can expect. Stars and directors will flock to it, and audiences are proving they'll do the same.

  • Christophor Rick

    No way, I saw the trailer for it and it will be no better than those poor TV shows. It just looks cheesy. I have the trailer over at Gamers Daily News and I'm saddened. Sure, the production values are good, but really, they need better fight scenes and probably some better scripting. I'm watching the video now and it reminds me of those Saturday afternoon sci-fi shows that no one really ever watched.

    • Christophor Rick

      Now, the grenade goes off and every SWAT member has their goggles up on their head. When they come to and start shooting, they all have their goggles on their faces... did the grenade do that? No, the continuity checker failed :)

      Plus, why do all the bad guys have sunglasses on inside and how come JAx and Striker don't have helmets... ugh.

      Sonja was allegedly there for 2 days, yet had the strength to pull herself up and free herself. Why didn't she try that 2 days ago? Sure you might say the explosions loosened the bolt, but it was just a tiny bolt in cement and Sonja (from the games) would have pulled that out just by flexing her muscles ;)

      I don't think that all of those views are full views and while it's just the first episode, I don't know that those viewing numbers will continue. There's a reason those Mortal Kombat shows aren't on TV anymore and I think this might suffer from those same problems.

      I am an MK fan, have played all the games, seen the films and the TV shows. I think that they need to break out of the cliches they're using. It's looking more and more like a bad sci-fi cop flick in the making.

      Just my opinion as always.

      and Jeri Ryan is too old for Sonja ;)

      • JeremyScott

        Wow. How do you really feel? :)

        I didn't realize we had a Mortal Kombat fan here among us at ReelSEO.

        • Christophor Rick

          I am a bi MK fan, I just don't think they quite got the feel of it in that show.

          Don't make be teleport over there and pull your skull and spine out of you ;)

        • JeremyScott

          I played more Mortal Combat in college than I'd care to admit, though I bet a few professors could ballpark it just based on how poorly I did in their classes.

        • Christophor Rick

          Made me totally lol there.
          You should see the harsh criticisms of my not-very-harsh review of the episode at GDN. I was dubbed "not knowing what you're talking about" and flamed for not "appreciating the working to a tight deadline" that they apparently had to do... who knew except maybe someone attached to it, right?

      • Its_big

        Agreed, Jeri Ryan is too old for Sonja. That struck me when I watched the first ep. Maybe 5-6 years ago it would have been a different story.

  • Jon O’Brien

    I think it's worth noting that MK Legacy will work online because it knows where it's audience is. Online video is extremely popular with gamers. Look at the top viewed videos and channels on YouTube. Check out Digg.

    MK Legacy probably works better online than it does on any other medium, except maybe XBox360 Zune channel.

    Smart move. I wonder what other ready-and-willing demographics would gobble up a targeted, pre-branded web-series?

    • JeremyScott

      This is a great point. The likely fans of this series are online, loving YouTube videos. This should be right up their alley.


    Mortal Kombat legacy is bound to be a huge hit, especially with the release of MK9.