Alternate distribution methods are key to the future of filmmaking. It's not enough to simply plop a new movie onto 3,000 nationwide screens, before an eventual international rollout. People are watching movies through different methods. And one of them could be Vimeo, if Joss Whedon's latest gamble pays off.
Whedon has written and produced a new movie called In Your Eyes, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday evening. While Whedon was not there to present the film, because he's currently working on Avengers: Age Of Ultron, he sent a message to the audience that surprised many in attendance.
"It's not just the world premiere of the film, it's the worldwide release date, because as of now, In Your Eyes is available on any internet cable device."
In Your Eyes is currently available right now for a 72-hour rental at Vimeo at inyoureyesmovie.com. It will cost viewers only $5. The picture stars Zoe Kazan, Michael Stahl-David and Nikki Reed and focuses on a metaphysical relationship between an East Coast housewife and an ex-con in New Mexico. The Tribeca program calls it "Joss Whedon does Nicholas Sparks." With the loads of film festivals out there limiting people's actual access to films that critics are discussing, this is an interesting solution. $5 isn't bad, and this is a relatively smaller film: technically, watching it on a smaller screen might be beneficial.
Of course, so far these alternate distribution methods have really only been used with tiny films: you're not going to see Transcendence pop up on VOD next week just because the theatrical bow was weak. This is the second release from Whedon's Bellwether Pictures, who were also behind his Much Ado About Nothing, another tiny picture from the Whedon dollhouse. If this is going to change the distribution model, no one's quite there yet. And as far as streaming services, Vimeo is in competition with a host of others underneath YouTube, a hierarchy that hasn't yet been established: the competition between those services is surely worthy of it's own Aaron Sorkin-penned drama. Which will then be sold on Vimeo! Inception!
This is also a decision being made for a film helmed by Brin Hill. In Your Eyes is his second directorial effort: his first was Ball Don't Lie, which didn't make a huge dent back in 2008. If this latest effort is similarly anonymous, Whedon's decision has basically branded Hill a "Vimeo" filmmaker, which would hurt any deals he makes outside of Bellwether. Whedon is showing a little bit of confidence here, but this is a distribution method that will need to suffer some growing pains before it flowers.