EXCLUSIVE: As the release models for indie films continue to evolve toward streaming windows for most pictures that don’t get the seven-figure theatrical distribution festival deals, the digital media tech company Giant Interactive has launched a new venture to help those films realize maximum revenue. Streaming Plus is designed to make sure that these films exploit every possible ancillar window. Steered by Giant Interactive director of Content Distribution and former Tribeca acquisitions exec Nick Savva, the initiative kicks off with Newness, the Drake Doremus-directed drama that stars Nicholas Hoult and Laia Costa. The film premiered at Sundance and UTA reps brokered an SVOD deal with Netflix. Giant Interactive was able to put the filmmakers — the picture’s exec produced by Ridley Scott — into a deal for an iTunes Movie Exclusive window that starts in the US and Canada on November ahead of the Netflix streaming window, with other deals to follow.
Savva said the service isn’t helpful for movies that get bought in big exclusive full rights deals by the likes of Netflix, Amazon Studios and other streaming services that are making noise in the space. But for transactional streaming deals that are increasingly happening with these services on SXSW, Sundance, Tribeca and Toronto films, Savva said Streaming Plus aims to connect directly with filmmakers, financiers and agents to offer its services to exploit every window, for which Streaming Plus will get a service fee.
“We noticed a strong trend of movies going straight to streaming services, with Netflix and Amazon buying directly from filmmakers, and with the new Amazon Festival Stars Program acquiring a ton of films out of festivals like SXSW,” Savva told Deadline. “We saw a big opportunity to complement those streaming deals by placing films on other digital platforms. That has been easier said than done in the past, but it is the impetus of what we are doing here. Often those streaming platforms buy the first pay window. They used to buy them from distributors, but now they are going straight to the filmmakers. All of the other rights the distributors would exploit around the pay window, are still available. It is one piece of the pie, but we are letting filmmakers know they might be leaving money on the table if they aren’t fully accessing these additional platforms. They can include theatrical rights, transactional VOD, electronic sell through rights, that frequently remain untouched when one of the streaming services does one of these deals.”
Savva said that the Doremus-directed Newness, the first significant film they’ve taken on, illustrates the potential. “It premiered at Sundance, and the filmmaker’s UTA agents sold Netflix the pay one window,” Savva said. “That meant the filmmakers were still free to exploit these other rights and that is where we are stepping and we made the iTunes exclusive deal happen.” He said that after the iTunes exclusive window passes, the film rolls out onto numerous services including Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Xbox, PlayStation. “We are doing all those deals,” he said.
According to Savva, there are many films that can use help, with dozens of candidates rolling out of each festival.
“We are filling something of a void,” he said. “Previously, smaller traditional distributors who would be in this space. Their business models evolved, and they don’t want to take on limited rights on films anymore. That’s the space Giant can come on, and exploit the transactional VOD and EST rights, which can be significant.”