Amazon Sets Film Festival Safety Net Program

After spending millions buying up five films at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, streaming giant Amazon has snagged timed exclusive subscription-streaming rights to a dozen more fest titles.

All the deals come under the company’s Amazon Video Direct program – a no-haggle offer to filmmakers whose movies were officially screened at Sundance: a cash bonus of up to $100,000 for two-year SVOD rights plus streaming royalties. Basically the initiative, dubbed ‘AVD Film Festival Stars,’ serves as something of a safety net to catch those films that fall through the cracks.

The company has now paid just $400,000 in bonuses for twelve features acquired. The most notable of them, “Manifesto,” stars Cate Blanchett inhabiting thirteen different characters. Also included are China-set absurdist comedy “Free and Easy”; Kristen Tan’s dramedy “Pop Aye” and Indian sweatshop documentary “Machines”.

The rest of the titles are: “500 Years,” “Family Life,” “Axolotl Overkill,” “Don’t Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl!,” “Plastic China,” “The Good Postman,” “World Without End” and “I Dream in Another Language”. Bonus rates differ depending upon the section in a festival that the film premieres (with official competition narrative films getting the highest bonuses).

The upfront cash bonus is to help the filmmakers and producers market their movies, including potential theatrical releases. Participating content owners are also offered 30c/hr viewed in the U.S. and 12c/hr non-U.S. – double the regular royalty rate for content made available through Amazon Video Direct.

Amazon has a one year exclusive SVOD window and another year non-exclusively on the titles. The program doesn’t include any restrictions on other distribution windows either including transactional VOD, so the films can also be distributed through services like iTunes.

Amazon is reportedly so pleased with the results that it’s now extending similar offers to this year’s officially accepted entries at SXSW, Tribeca and Toronto
The movies will all be available on Amazon Prime Video later this year with this Sundance batch to all be online no later than September 1st.

These join the five high profile acquisitions made during the fest: Rom-com “The Big Sick,” prison drama “Crown Heights,” family dramedy “Landline,” ISIS documentary “City of Ghosts” and Grateful Dead doco “Long Strange Trip”.

Amazon does not have worldwide rights for all the titles, “Manifesto” for example will only be available in the U.S. and Canada as the Match Factory bought international rights.

Source: Variety