A new annual distribution fund by digital “theater-on-demand” platform Gathr will advance up to US$20,000 for 25 crowd-funded films, in return for exclusive launches on its service and traditional theatrical rights.
The fund promises to help filmmakers using crowdfunding get their work shown in more theaters, while retaining ancillary rights for their work.
Gathr bills itself as a service uniting movie-lovers with the films they want to see. The online platform allows users to reserve tickets for films – generally smaller, independent projects that have difficulty getting shown in theaters – which are then screened at a nearby venue. A minimum number of tickets need to be sold in order for a screening to occur, and if the time expires before quotas are filled, the screening doesn’t happen and no-one is charged.
The service averages about 150 attendees per screening, and helped launch previously little-known films such as 2013 documentary Girl Rising, which went on to gross US$1.7 million. Recent screenings have included 2014 Academy Award nominee The Square and the documentary Kids for Cash.
The distribution fund requires completed films to have raised at least US$50,000 through crowd-funding and accumulated at least 1,000 backers through a reputed crowd-funding website to be eligible for the advance.
“Traditional theatrical distribution in many cases has become a Trojan Horse of sorts to market a film’s ancillary opportunities, which is a shame because many films have theatrical audiences spread out across the country whom they are not able to reach in a cost-effective way,” said Gathr CEO Scott Glosserman in a statement.
“Gathr’s model has solved that problem and, as such, we are able to disengage all rights in order to give the filmmakers more flexibility and power over their choices.”
Richard Matson, head of distribution and acquisitions, added: “Because community plays such an important role in our distribution model, the fund allows Gathr to reward filmmakers who have successfully used crowd sourcing to build a following, while enhancing the commercial value of the film for the producers and their ancillary distribution partners.”