Joss Whedon-Scripted In Your Eyes Goes Direct to Vimeo
Can the Filmmaker-Friendly Site Supplant Traditional Video On Demand?
It's not often that a film is immediately available for viewing everywhere in the world within minutes of its world premiere — but that's how executive producer and screenwriter Joss Whedon released In Your Eyes, which debuted last night at the Tribeca Film Festival.
After the screening, Whedon announced (by way of a pre-recorded video message, above) that In Your Eyes was being released immediately as a 72-hour rental on Vimeo on Demand for anyone with an Internet-connected device and $5 to spare. In Your Eyes was directed by Brin Hill and produced by Bellwether Pictures, which was founded by Whedon and Kai Cole as a microbudget film studio.
The move should give Vimeo on Demand a welcome shot in the arm. Distributors like IFC Films and Magnolia have been releasing new titles to VOD in advance of theatrical-release dates, but those titles are sold through services like iTunes, Xbox Live, and the PlayStation Store. Vimeo on Demand is considered a very good deal for filmmakers, offering them 90 percent of all revenue after transaction fees, but getting eyeballs is a challenge. Having a picture from Joss Whedon's studio available on the service is sure to raise its profile among audiences as well as filmmakers. While many Vimeo on Demand titles are available to buy as well as to rent, In Your Eyes is a rental-only title, at least for now.
One interesting result of the surprise distribution strategy is that fans got to see the film before critics had gotten a chance to file reviews. When we checked this morning, the Rotten Tomatoes index had exactly zero reviews of In Your Eyes. That meant early-bird Whedonites had a chance to see the film before the critical community — not to mention the blogosphere — had weighed in on its merits. Reviews are trickling in now (the official press-and-industry screening didn't take place until this afternoon), but in an era when yeas and nays on any new film spread like wildfire on the web and through social media, that's a refreshingly unspoiled way to see a new movie.
Another fan-friendly facet of the move is that the movie has already been subtitled in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese. Of course, huge swaths of the world's population don't speak any of those languages, but it's a step in the right direction — and with demographic results from this release in hand, it may be easier to tell which other languages should be a priority for the next, similar release.
If you want to see In Your Eyes the old-fashioned way, it is screening at the Bow Tie Cinemas in Chelsea tonight, and at the AMC Loews Village on Wednesday. There was no immediate word on a potential theatrical run for the movie, or a more traditional release on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD platforms.
Other current high-profile Vimeo-on-Demand titles include the provocative duo of Interior. Leather Bar., directed by James Franco and Travis Mathews, which reimagines the gay S&M footage thought to have been cut from director William Friedkin's 1980 thriller Cruising before release to avoid an X rating, and Bettie Page Reveals All, a new documentary on the legendary 1950s fetish model that debuts tomorrow.