In early March, we detailed Amazon’s plans bolster its Amazon Video Direct program by offering independent filmmakers a potentially lucrative opportunity. Through its Film Festival Stars program, filmmakers seeking distribution will be paid a one-time fee in exchange for exclusive Prime streaming rights for a 24-month period. (The fee is meant to be either a payment for the filmmakers, or an investment to be put toward marketing and promotion for the film.)
After picking up 15 films from January’s Sundance Film Festival, Amazon has surged forward with the FFS program, announcing today through Variety that 40 more films have been acquired from South by Southwest’s 2017 film festival, including the 2017 Grand Jury Award winner Most Beautiful Island. In total, around $1.9 million will be paid out to filmmakers as part of the program, and their streaming runs will begin sometime before the 2018 festival.
As Variety notes, “Amazon pays royalties to participating rights holders for content they make available through Amazon Video Direct, based on how much customers watch the title. Under the Film Festival Stars program, AVD offers double the regular royalty rate (30 cents per hour viewed in the U.S.; 12 cents per hour viewed outside the U.S.).” It’s a double-edged sword for filmmakers; a no-budget production will likely end up in front of a far bigger audience than it might otherwise, but the exclusive rights to the film are owned for a two-year window.
While the long-term benefits and/or drawbacks of the FFS program remain to be seen, Amazon is pushing it aggressively, extending similar offers to filmmakers screening at Tribeca and this fall’s Toronto International Film Festival as well. You can read the full list of future Amazon titles below:
Inheritance, Assholes, Win By Fall, Signature Move, Like Me, Sylvio, Satan Said Dance, Paa Joe & The Lion, A Bad Idea Gone Wrong, Maineland, The Cloud Forest, The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, Bad Lucky Goat, Bill Frisell, A Portrait, Divine Divas, Pornocracy, Tormentero, Inflame, The Secret Life of Lance Letscher, I Am Another You, Most Beautiful Island, A Critically Endangered Species, Dara Ju, Spettacolo, Ramblin’ Freak, DRIB, Two Pigeons, Going to Brazil, Daphne, Meatball Machine Kodoku, The Honor Farm, The Light of the Moon, Flesh and Blood, Fits and Starts, La Barracuda, MFA, California Dreams, Easy Living, Let There Be Light, Infinity Baby.