Facebook will host a paid movie premiere this month

A documentary about the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum will debut on the platform on August 19th.

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Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many film festivals have shifted to online-only or hybrid formats. Later this month, another movie will premiere as a paid online event. This time around, you'll be able to watch it on Facebook.

Users in any country where Facebook's paid online events are available (which now number more than 100) can watch the premiere of The Outsider, a behind-the-scenes documentary about the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. A virtual ticket costs $4, and the film will debut on August 19th at 8PM ET. It'll be available for 12 hours.

As Axios reports, a Facebook Live panel discussion will follow the premiere of The Outsider. The doc will hit select theaters and other streaming platforms in September.

Facebook will run some promos for the event, which is being run by distributor Abramorama, but it won't take a cut of ticket sales. The company is waiving commissions on creators' revenue through 2022.

The film has already caused controversy. Officials at the museum asked the filmmakers to cut 18 "defamatory" scenes from The Outsider, but directors Pamela Yoder and Steven Rosenbaum said they wouldn't back down. Michael Shulan, the museum's former creative director and a central figure in the film, reportedly claims in the movie that the museum represents the “Disneyfication” of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Film distribution is a tough nut to crack for indie studios and filmmakers, especially when they try to release movies in a number of markets. Much like others have had success in hosting online classes or livestreaming gameplay on Facebook, they could harness the platform's enormous reach to find an audience.

It remains to be seen whether other filmmakers and distributors premiere their movies on Facebook. Still, with the company having its fingers in an ever-increasing number of pies, it's not hard to imagine Facebook being interested in hosting similar events in the future.