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Flix Premiere is the online cinema for forgotten films

With new, exclusive releases each week, it's movie distributor meets streaming service.

Jamie Rigg , @jmerigg
03.29.16 in AV
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Major film studios have much of their production schedules mapped out years in advance. By default, cinemas have pretty full calendars themselves. With a finite number of screens, theaters can only take so many movies from other distributors. Competition for these slots is fierce, and when film festival season draws to a close, some flicks simply don't get picked up. Even big names and moving stories can't save them from limbo. Flix Premiere, however, wants to do just that, by being an online cinema for overlooked films.

On the face of it, Flix Premiere is a new movie streaming service. But as founder Martin Warner puts it, the outfit is actually playing the role of distributor, just with its own platform for putting bums in virtual seats. As such, Flix Premiere looks at acquisitions from a distributor perspective, with an internal team not only assessing cinematic value, but the size of the potential audience and return on investment.

Just because a film has been forgotten doesn't necessarily mean it'll make the cut. Flix Premiere only wants to promote good films that, for one reason or another, haven't found an audience yet. Typically, these will be of more modest budgets (sub-$15 million) and come from independent studios. And age isn't really an issue. Anything from the past three years or so is on Flix Premiere's radar, though it'll consider older movies, too, if they're of considerable merit.

In some ways, Warner sees Flix Premiere as a competitor to the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Not in breadth, but just as the major streaming services are investing more in original content, Flix Premiere will only ever host platform exclusives. Films you won't find anywhere else, and films that've never been shown anywhere else.

Flix Premiere isn't really being pitched as a streaming service, though. "Online cinema" is the preferred term, for several reasons. The heavily curated nature of the service, for one -- Warner hopes one day that it'll be as credible as bricks-and-mortar chains like Odeon and AMC -- but primarily because Flix Premiere will treat new releases exactly like theatrical debuts.

In its role as distributor, Flix Premiere will first promote the movies through online marketing campaigns. A film will then have a small advanced screening window, with trailers, interviews and behind-the-scenes snippets building momentum ahead of its general release. Each week, the service will promote around eight titles in the same way a local, independent theater might change what it shows on a regular basis. There's no subscription model: You pay a couple of bucks for your ticket, microwave your popcorn and stream the film as if you were going to the cinema.

You can go back through the archives and see what was playing in previous weeks -- Flix Premiere has a minimum exclusivity period of 12 months on any film -- but the idea is to highlight new releases, not just add them to a vast database of other content. Over the next few weeks, Flix Premiere will release iOS and Android apps to compliment browser access, and in the future, additional apps for smart TVs, games consoles and streaming pucks are in the cards.

The Flix Premiere US and UK websites are actually live right now (though intermittently) for testing purposes ahead of a proper launch at the end of May, after the Cannes film festival. At this point, the service will expand to Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Spain. This is also when Flix Premiere will kick off weekly releases, as it hopes to become a theatrical release format in its own right, and carve out a niche for itself in the already crowded video-on-demand space.

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