Amazon Video Direct: Here’s What the Deal Really Means for Sundance Filmmakers

Amazon Video Direct

Amazon has announced a special distribution deal exclusively for Sundance filmmakers, but weighing the pros and cons can be tricky. As a new feature of Amazon Video Direct, the video distribution service launched last May, Amazon is offering all official Sundance selections a one-time cash bonus and increased royalty rates for filmmakers who hand over worldwide streaming VOD rights to their films for 24 months, with the first 12 months exclusive to Amazon.

Under the program, which is called Film Festival Stars, Sundance’s U.S. Premieres and U.S. Dramatic Competition films are eligible to receive $100,000 for their rights, while U.S. Documentary Premieres and U.S. Documentary Competition films will receive $75,000. Films in the World Dramatic, World Documentaries, Next, Spotlight, Kids, Midnight, and New Frontier sections would receive $25,000. The royalty rates offer 30 cents per hour for movies viewed in the U.S. and 12 cents per hour for movies viewed internationally, double the usual rate offered by Amazon Video Direct for Prime Video titles. Royalties are capped at $75,000 per month.

Veteran indie producer Mynette Louie (“The Invitation”) immediately criticized the offer in a Facebook post, describing it as a lowball proposition; even $100,000 won’t approach recouping a feature budget. After speaking with Amazon, however, she clarified that having a distribution outlet is “a good thing for films without distribution or that have gone through the sales cycle…