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YOUTUBE vs. PHYSICAL MEDIA AND OTHER SUNDANCE NOTES

The YouTube/Sundance partnership that is streaming five films for rental during the festival has gotten a lot of ink, with many filmmakers and industry observers hopeful that the experiment will generate numbers that will help guide future online distribution decision-making. At the Producer’s Brunch today I ran into Children of Paradise producer Mynette Louie, who shared the data she’s received so far. Interestingly, physical media (i.e., DVDs) is currently winning out over the new model strategy. The publicity generated by the YouTube launch and the button Louie and director Tze Chun added to their page has generated $1,000 in DVD sales from the film’s site. As for YouTube, the gross is just shy of that, with approximately 200 rentals at $3.99 thus counted. Louie promises the complete numbers after the end of the online run, so we’ll see if YouTube numbers catch up. (A point of clarification, though: DVD gross is what’s winning, not number of units. YouTube has seen more individual buys. And, Louie adds, the filmmakers sell an educational version at a higher price point, and by selling a few of those they also upped the DVD number.)

As for the festival in general, I have a hard time characterizing the tone. Brandon Harris dubbed it “jovial yet reserved,” and that’s probably as good a take as any. Up until today it’s been cold and snowy, there seems to be bits of business activity although nothing that qualifies as an all-out bidding war. In terms of buzz, the two across-the-board positive reactions I’m hearing are for Henry Joost’s and Ariel Schulman’s doc Catfish and the Duplass Brothers’ Cyrus. (Read our interview with the Catfish directors here.) Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone has also played well, with several people I talked to particularly passionate about it. Buried played well last night and reportedly has bids on the table. (Read our interview with its screenwriter here.) In addition to Catfish, I’ve heard good things about A Small Act (see Brandon Harris’s take on it) and Son of Babylon. I’m off to see Blue Valentine and will write up my thoughts on what I’ve seen so far in the next day or two.

Below is the trailer for Children of Invention.

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