Back in March, Vimeo created a new distribution model for filmmakers by offering a ridiculously attractive 90/10 revenue split and access to a 100-million-strong audience. Now, they want to use Vimeo On Demand to deliver Toronto International Film Festival movies to the world.
According to Variety, the company is offering a flat $10,000 to each of the 146 premieres happening at TIFF in exchange for exclusive digital distribution rights for 30 days (or until Vimeo recoups the 10k) followed by the standard VOD revenue split.
This kind of open-door distribution offer is equal parts exciting and risky, and it shows an incredible (well-earned) trust in the discernment of the TIFF selection committee. This will undoubtedly be a great option for the large number of films that will find success on the festival circuit while never securing traditional distribution, but there’s definitely an experimental tilt. Vimeo might end up eating losses for movies that never earn back the cash, and filmmakers who put their work online (even at such a respectable venue) may injure their chances for larger-scale theater distribution in the future. It’s the ancient choice between small, immediate satisfaction and the potential opportunity for bigger success further down the line.
Regardless of the gamble for Vimeo and for filmmakers, this is excellent news for fans. We’ll gain access to movies that would normally require a passport, and as this is offered to more fests, it’ll be as if entire indie lineups will be at our fingertips instead of at the end of a plane trip. That’s a big, big win.