In a letter to users, the service – run through IMDbPro – said it would “phase out” the service over the next year. Withoutabox was the official platform for Sundance and had been used by the LA Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, and hundreds of smaller events, with the platform claiming it processed more than 100,000 submissions.
“After more than 10 years operating the Withoutabox film festival submission service, we have decided to phase out the service over the next year,” said an email sent to past festival listers. “Festivals currently using Withoutabox will be able to complete their current submission season, and you can continue to use Withoutabox in 2019 as long as submissions close on or before September 16, 2019.”
Withoutabox was an early platform for festival submissions, but then ran into some headwinds when upstart services began mimicking it and undercutting its submission prices, in some cases without charging.
Earlier this year, the Sundance Institute renewed its exclusive agreement with Withoutabox to handle its festival submissions for an additional three years. It was part of Withoutbox’s strategy to lock out competitors who had nibbled at its revenue. The exclusivity came at a cost, though, as Withoutabox was offering festival sponsorships, free advertising on IMDb, IMDbPro coverage of the festival, and free marketing to certain filmmakers.
Submissions on the Withoutabox platform will lose on Sept. 16, 2019. After that, festivals can continue using the platform for management and judging, but it will be completely disabled on Oct. 30, 2019. Data must be exported by then in order to ensure historical preservation.