Guardians of the Galaxy has been a massive hit for Marvel and Vin Diesel’s character Groot was a big part of that success, but was he cast because of his massive social media presence?

Now, before Diesel fans start throwing rocks, hear us out on our social media theory.

If you’re a fan of the Fast and Furious actor, you’re well aware that he has a whopping 83.6 million Facebook fans. If that doesn’t impress you, it should. He has more likes than any other actor on the planet and is very in touch with his fans – something studios would be very interested in using to their advantage to increase a movie’s exposure.

For reference Will Smith is the next actor on the list, with 10 million fewer fans, which is pretty astonishing considering how massive of an actor Smith has been over the last 20 years.

With the international box office becoming more and more essential for a film’s success, having an actor with such a massive social media presence in the international market is key.

Guardians of the Galaxy pulled in $94M at the box office during its opening weekend, which is incredibly impressive for an entirely new group of superheroes. It has just crossed $500 million worldwide today, with nearly half of that coming from international markets without being released in China, Japan, Germany or Italy yet. It’s also now Vin’s most successful film ever at the domestic box office.

Recently, there was an interview released which featured Kick Ass 2 actress Chloë Grace Moretz. While being asked multiple questions about her latest film If I Stay, she explained that her most bizarre experience while auditioning for a role was when a casting director asked her how many Twitter followers she had at the beginning of an audition.

‘If you don’t Instagram or Tweet your movies then they aren’t going to succeed’

 

For reference the actress has 1.1 million Twitter followers, which is a fairly respectable number for a talented actress of her age and popularity. But she explained that she couldn’t believe that the casting director even cared enough to ask her during an audition.

She insinuated that her social media presence was deemed vital for her chances of landing the role with this large film and she revealed that she did not end up getting the role. Now, Moretz could have not gotten the role for a multitude of reasons, but this is the first time we’ve ever heard of an actor being directly asked how large of a social media presence they have.

vin diesel social media facebook fans fox

Moretz continued, saying, “Instead of being asked how you want to approach [the role], they tell you that if you don’t Instagram or Tweet your movies then they aren’t going to succeed.” This is a very surprising statement and if it’s happening with other actors (which is highly likely), then it’s truly a paradigm shift from what we’ve seen in the past with actors and auditions.

Normally actors are asked to read scripts, meet other cast members already involved, talk with studio heads, directors, writers, producers, you get the point. Twitter followers or Facebook likes haven’t exactly been the first things that come up when an actor shows up for an audition for a massive film.

Back when Vin Diesel was making his way around the web saying that he was going to have a role in a new Marvel movie, he was throwing out some massive hints, pointing at posters in Marvel Studios’ offices, posting an image of The Vision on Facebook and then taking it down and that’s when everyone began speculating.

Most believed that with his size, tough guy persona and deep voice that he’d be playing the villain that every Marvel film is building up to: Thanos.

That role ended up going to actor Josh Brolin, who we heard for the first time in Guardians of the Galaxy as Thanos and The Vision role ended up going to actor Paul Bettany, who previously voiced J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man trilogy and The Avengers.

vin diesel groot small social mediaAfter all the speculation Vin Diesel finally revealed that he would be voicing Groot, the character essentially no one outside of comic book fans even knew or cared about. What no one could have expected was that Groot would end up being one of, if not the biggest, highlights in the entire film despite saying only three words (four if you count the one time he said “we”).

Guardians of the Galaxy had a unique problem, in that not even American audiences knew who the superheroes were, the director wasn’t a household name, neither were the actors, and the story was entirely in space.

The actor best known in the film was two-time Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper, who wasn’t even on screen, but voiced the second most popular character Rocket Raccoon.

Marvel have proven to be incredibly smart and when taking a look at all of the check boxes for Guardians, they undoubtedly had a big box with “find an actor with international appeal” beside it to check off.

That’s where Vin came in. The actor has the biggest international appeal of any Hollywood actor on social media and if you check out his official Facebook page, you’ll see his over 80 million fans eating up every Guardians of the Galaxy related post he made over the last six months leading up to Guardians’ release.

This was even more apparent when Groot became a star during Guardians of the Galaxy’s #1 run at the box office. The actor posted pictures of himself wearing “I am Groot” t-shirts which had millions of views and likes. International and stateside fans were falling over themselves to share Diesel’s posts about the film on Facebook and he was trending, along with his character who a year earlier 99% of the world had never even heard of.

‘I am Groot’ has become Marvel’s new ‘I am Iron Man’

Despite the fact that Chris Pratt was the star of the film, and did one hell of a job as the leading man, everyone wanted to hear three little words from Vin Diesel at all the premieres around the globe – and why not? It’s catchy, we can use it online in nearly any situation and now “I am Groot” has become Marvel’s new “I am Iron Man.” Fairly lucky for them, considering the latter phrase had become a bit stale, they get a new one just in time for it to become a global phenomenon.

Guardians of the Galaxy desperately needed international appeal because it barely had any domestic appeal prior to its last few trailers, which is really when fans truly started gaining interest and it began generating traction due to solid word of mouth after early reviews started to roll in.

This isn’t intended to discredit Vin Diesel’s work as Groot in any way, because he was obviously brilliant, but because of Groot’s one line, nearly anyone (with a deep voice) could have voiced Groot and most likely would still have been a gigantic hit with moviegoers. His beloved presence was felt because of the incredible VFX artists working their magic to bring this tree-like character to life and tap into our deepest emotions.

vin diesel groot wide

Especially considering one of the most memorable parts of the film was when baby Groot was dancing during the mid-credits scene – a scene where Groot doesn’t speak at all. But when fans can put a face to the character, it becomes all the more popular and even more advantageous to Marvel for promotional purposes.

So, what does all of this mean? Was Vin Diesel the right guy for the job? You bet he was, but maybe not because of his unique voice and unlikely due to his past experience doing voice work on The Iron Giant.

Marvel have become marketing ninjas and they saw the potential to include a cast member that only has three words, yet would bring them 80+ million adoring fans spreading the word that Vin Diesel, the actor with 80 million strong, is the voice behind the heartstring-pulling superhero in their latest film.

Guardians of the Galaxy owes quite a bit of its success to Diesel and we would never take that away from him, but Marvel is behind-the-scenes pulling the strings in exactly the right way and there’s no doubt in our mind that they’re a lot smarter than the rest of us.

Which means their casting choice for Groot may have been a bit more about brilliant promotion as opposed to brilliant voice work.

The real question is how this will affect casting in the future. Will the first question during all auditions become: How many Facebook fans do you have?

It wouldn’t surprise us in the least.

‘Glee’ alum Mark Salling indicted on child pornography charges

The actor is facing a lot of jail time.

4:55 pm EDT, May 27, 2016

Following an arrest in December, Glee star Mark Salling (who played Puck on the Fox series) is now facing child pornography charges.

A federal grand jury has charged the 33-year-old actor with two counts of child pornography after a search of his home turned up “thousands” of images and videos involving children, TMZ reports. He will be arraigned in early June.

Salling’s charges potentially come with big sentences: 5 to 20 years in prison for receiving child porn, and another 20 years for possessing it.

After Glee went off air last year, Salling has worked on only one project: The action movie Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets which is slated to hit theaters later this year.

The actor has been in trouble with the law before — he was sued for sexual battery in 2013.

After filing for divorce from Johnny Depp earlier this week, Amber Heard has now filed a restraining order against the actor after alleged domestic abuse.

TMZ reports Heard went into a Los Angeles courtroom this morning to file the restraining order and shared photos of physical abuse by Johnny Depp, including bruises from this past weekend. “Heard claims after he allegedly hit her he offered her money to stay quiet, but instead she filed for divorce first thing Monday morning,” TMZ says. Heard reportedly “has video of one of the beatings.” TMZ’s report includes a graphic photo of the bruises the actress received from Depp.

Update: The restraining order has been granted.

Heard says she’s been physically assaulted “various times during their marriage,” according to TMZ, and believes there’s “an immediate threat of harm.” Hence the restraining order.

The report adds, “We’re told cops told Amber they would find Johnny and arrest him if she gave a statement about the alleged violence, but she refused. Officers told her if she changed her mind she could call them. As far as we know, she has not gone back to the cops.”

Johnny Depp is currently in the middle of promoting Alice Through the Looking Glass, which opens in theaters Friday.

Depp and Heard married last year after three years of dating. A photo of the couple at this year’s Grammy Awards is below.

DCOM marathon schedule: See full list of movies and when they air

The mega marathon begins Friday, May 27 and runs into June!

10:00 am EDT, May 27, 2016

The highly-anticipated Disney Channel Original Movie marathon began Friday, May 27 at 10 a.m. eastern and runs through the holiday weekend. See the complete DCOM marathon schedule here!

When Disney Channel says they’re running a DCOM marathon, they mean it. The network will be airing 51 DCOMs from Friday to Monday ahead of this summer’s release of their 100th DCOM, Adventures in Babysitting (debuting June 24). Who needs Memorial Day festivities when you can sit inside and enjoy Disney Channel classics all weekend?!

After Monday they’ll continue to air a couple more movies every night until they eventually air all 100 DCOMs. That’s right! Every single one of ’em is returning to television between now and late June.

Below is the complete list of DCOMs airing from Friday, May 27 into the middle of June. Since many are airing in the overnight hours, you’ll probably want to set up your DVR. Or in case you want to watch them again. And again.

DCOM Marathon Schedule

Friday, May 27

10:00AM Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama
11:20AM Read It and Weep
12:55PM Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior
2:40PM Jump In!
4:15PM Lemonade Mouth
6:15PM Zapped
8:00PM High School Musical 2
9:55PM The Cheetah Girls 2
11:45PM Zenon the Zequel
1:25AM Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge
2:55AM Twitches Too
4:25AM Alley Cats Strike!

Saturday, May 28

6:25AM You Wish!
8:05AM The Proud Family Movie
9:50AM Quints
11:25AM Horse Sense
1:10PM Cow Belles
2:50PM Twitches
4:30PM The Even Stevens Movie
6:15PM Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie
8:00PM Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
9:50PM Princess Protection Program
11:30PM The Cheetah Girls: One World
1:05AM Zenon: Z3
2:40AM Halloweentown High
4:20AM The Thirteenth Year

Netflix DCOMs High School Musical

Sunday, May 29

6:00AM Right On Track
7:45AM Full-Court Miracle
9:35AM Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off
11:20AM Brink!
1:10PM Double Teamed
2:55PM Rip Girls
4:35PM Motocrossed
6:20PM Cloud 9
8:00PM Teen Beach 2
9:55PM Bad Hair Day
11:40PM How to Build a Better Boy
1:20AM Pixel Perfect
2:55AM The Other Me
4:30AM Genius

Monday, May 30

10:00AM Stuck in the Suburbs
11:30AM Halloweentown
1:05PM Zenon, Girl of the 21st Century
2:55PM Smart House
4:25PM High School Musical
6:15PM Camp Rock
8:00PM Descendants
10:05PM Teen Beach Movie
11:55PM Cadet Kelly
1:50AM The Cheetah Girls
3:35AM Johnny Tsunami

Camp Rock DCOM

After Memorial Day Weekend, Disney Channel will air two more DCOMs each night. Here’s the schedule so far (again, set your DVRs because these air late!)

Wednesday, June 1
12:00AM Return to Halloweentown
1:40AM Can of Worms

Thursday, June 2
12:00AM Going to the Mat
1:40AM Miracle in Lane 2

Friday, June 3
12:00AM The Suite Life Movie
1:40AM Ring of Endless Light

Saturday, June 4
12:00AM Invisible Sister
1:40AM Now You See It…

Sunday, June 5
12:00AM Girl vs. Monster
1:40AM Phantom of Megaplex

Monday, June 6
12:00AM Tru Confessions
1:40AM Tiger Cruise

Tuesday, June 7
12:00AM Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire
1:40AM Under Wraps

Wednesday, June 8
12:00AM Den Brother
1:40AM Go Figure

Thursday, June 9
12:00AM Avalon High
1:40AM Jett Jackson: The Movie

Friday, June 10 and beyond
As of right now Disney Channel hasn’t released the schedule beyond June 10.

Which DCOMs do you plan to watch during the Disney Channel Marathon?

Related: The best DCOMs on Netflix

Related: The best DCOMs from the ’90s

Next week we’ll be launching a fun new game here on Hypable where we’ll seek your help in ranking every single DCOM in the history of DCOMs. It’s probably a good idea to watch as many of these as possible so you can brush up on your knowledge base and rank them accurately!