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Prescreen Suspends Operations

Prescreen, the independent film discovery and distribution platform, has suspended operations, reports Rip Empson for Techcrunch. Beginning as a kind of film-of-the-day online distributor and developing into a marketing and discovery platform integrated with Facebook Open Graph, Prescreen both rented films and offered audience data to filmmakers developing their marketing plans. In his piece, Empson talked with Prescreen founder Shawn Bercuson:

While Prescreen saw interest both from users and filmmakers (and the co-founder added that some of its investors were willing to re-up), timing is crucial. The space is hot, and Bercuson believes that it’s inevitable that a platform like Prescreen will be successful, but the startup just couldn’t continue to bet on third-parties — or play the waiting game.

In the startup ecosystem, one company doing well often leads to success for many, but in Hollywood, the CEO says, it’s an individual endeavor. At this point, studios and executives see online, on-demand platforms like Prescreen as competition, and the whole digital realm as a “zero sum game,” he says….

But, startups are on a different timeline, the Prescreen CEO admitted, and at this point it just wasn’t worth it for them to wait it out. Without mind-melting traction and with many obstacles still ahead, the costs were too high.

Last month I spoke to Lee Wilson, Prescreen’s V.P. of Business Development, and he described for me Prescreen’s business: “As of April 1 we have featured 130 films, worked with 70 individual filmmakers and about 30 or 35 distribution partners. About half our films come from filmmakers, half from distributors. Distributors come to us to do limited test releases. They can cap the [number of] rentals and determine how to market their films. And filmmakers can come to us once a film is finished or after their festival runs.” Launching with only exclusive titles, Prescreen became non-exclusive but offered filmmakers and distribution partners, it claimed, more sophisticated analytics regarding viewers — information that could aid in the development of future marketing campaigns.

Prescreen’s notice to filmmakers and subscribers is posted below.

Prescreen Notice of Change of Service

Please be advised that on Thursday, May 31, 2012, Prescreen will be suspending our initial beta test until further notice. We very much appreciate your interest in our service and hope that you enjoyed your experience with Prescreen.

In early 2011, we started Prescreen because we believed the future of film discovery and distribution is digital. Last September, we launched the beta version of our site to test this premise. In just 8 months, we proved that this is likely to be the case. In total, Prescreen featured 168 films, rented more than 10,000 movies, and saw more than 115,000 subscribers opt in to receive Prescreen movies. That said, we’re perfectionists and we still don’t believe we’ve seized the opportunity. For now, we’re going back to the drawing board. When we come out on the other side, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Team Prescreen thanks you for your support from the bottom of our digital hearts

Team Prescreen

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