iTunes and Sundance Team Up For $1.99 Downloads

Posted on January 12, 2007

iTunes and Sundance have inked a deal whereby viewers can download from iTunes many of the 71 live-action and animated shorts movies being shown at the Sundance Film Festival. Each download will cost $1.99.

Sundance has always streamed a selection of shorts on its own site, and will do so again this year. But Sundance director of programming John Cooper said the new deal could give filmmakers greater reach and revenue, while also branding the festival on new platforms. Goal, Cooper said, is to export the fest beyond the multitudes who already descend on Park City. "In a way, we're not that interested in talking to the people who are at the festival because we're already at a max with them. We want to talk to people who don't come to the festival."

Podcasts of panels and other events will be made available for free on iTunes. Essentially, the deal looks to turn a film's festival screening from a one-off event at a particular time and place into a product that can be consumed by anyone throughout the year. Promos for the shorts, which will become available midway through the fest on Jan. 22, also will run on the Sundance Channel. But whether iTunes can achieve success with unknown content remains an open question; while shows like "Lost" and "CSI" have been sources of revenue and brand extensions, there's little track record for lesser-known video properties.

Nonexclusive deal allows filmmakers to sell shorts in other venues as well. Revenue will be split between the filmmakers and Sundance, with filmmakers taking more than half the total on each pic. Sundance ultimately would like to sell all the shorts, but must contend with rights issues for some of the films.

Pact comes as Sundance makes a larger push for shorts. In addition to its festival program, this year it's commissioning new shorts for mobile phones from the likes of "Little Miss Sunshine" co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Fest founder Robert Redford has said he wants Sundance to do for shorts in 2007 what it has done for indie features over the past two decades.

We think this is very, very cool. It will really help fledgling filmmakers get their work in front of the public and will give movie buffs access to Sundace content, even if they can't make the trip to Park City, Utah this January 19-29st.

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