August 23, 2017
TIFF 2017

Amazon is Now Paying Festival Filmmakers a $200K Bonus

Amazon ups the ante for its Film Festival Stars program.

Would you accept a $200,000 bonus to upload your official festival selection to Amazon Video Direct? That offer is now on the table for directors with films playing at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

In May 2016, Amazon launched the Film Festival Stars program, which aimed to lure festival fare to its streaming platform by offering $100,000 upfront and royalties to rights holders. At Sundance this year, we spoke with the head of Amazon Video Direct, Eric Orme, who told us that he hoped the program would help filmmakers capitalize on self-distribution. "We recognized that a lot of films at Sundance don't get full-service distribution deals," Orme said. "We want to provide a new distribution pathway for those films. Expanding distribution options means more great films have the opportunity to reach wider audiences."

Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of TIFF, echoed those sentiments. "TIFF recognizes finding an audience beyond the festival is important to filmmakers, and we understand the challenges securing distribution can bring," Bailey said in a statement. "We’re delighted to partner with Amazon Video Direct to offer films from TIFF’s official selection the opportunity to be seen by even more film lovers around the world."

The Film Festival Stars deal requires filmmakers to make Amazon Video Direct the exclusive SVOD home for this film, although directors can wait up to 18 months to upload their movies to the platform. In the interim, their films can play at other festivals and theaters. In addition to the initial bonus, filmmakers will receive a royalty rate of $0.30 per every hour their film is streamed on the platform—more than double the rate Amazon offers other Video Direct users.

So far, the program has proven a hefty incentive. At SXSW 2017 alone, Film Festival Stars signed deals for 40 movies.      

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