Prescreen Launches with Kino Lorber’s The Robber
Last month the movie marketing and distribution platform Prescreen launched. One of Prescreen’s first films will be Kino Lorber’s The Robber; a story of a champion marathoner who leads a double life as a serial bank robber, sprinting between heists and escaping from police in epic chase sequences. The question remains, can this effort succeed where others have failed? I spoke with Shawn Bercuson, Prescreen CEO and founder to find out more.
Prescreen is designed to give filmmakers and distributors an alternative to traditional advertising and distribution channels through the mass marketing of curated content that is then shared by users through social media.
First, a look at how Prescreen works.
Prescreen offers users the ability to subscribe to a daily email alert, view trailers and rent movies to stream on demand, as well as earn rewards and discounts for sharing movie information on their social networks. Their daily email service highlights one movie per day, enabling their featured films to reach a wide audience. Prescreen also delivers a Prescreen Performance Report to each filmmaker and distributor whose movie is featured on Prescreen. The report offers aggregated analytics and demographics about the audience for each featured film.
The Robber was directed by Austrian director Benjamin Heisenberg and features a riveting central performance by Andreas Lust (Revanche).
“Prescreen has developed an exciting and innovative digital platform for film distribution, and we are happy to be one of their first content providers,” says Richard Lorber, CEO of Kino Lorber. “We have one of the largest, most essential libraries in the United States and with Prescreen’s curatorial team so committed to high quality cinema it was a natural fit. In this rapidly changing digital distribution landscape, increasing market penetration means thinking outside the box – which is exactly why we're working with them.”
Consumer subscribers receive an email alert featuring one new movie each day.
Users watch the movie trailer for free and can purchase a rental to view the entire movie to stream on demand for up to 60 days.
Users can earn discounts and rewards by sharing the film through their social networks using Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Prescreen aggregates the purchasing data, protecting the privacy of each user, and delivers valuable demographic and analytic information back to filmmakers and distributors for future marketing and distribution efforts.
Prescreen’s marketing report includes all of the relevant information from the purchasers, allowing the content owner to use the detailed information to make informed decisions about continued distribution and marketing efforts. Prescreen allows content owners to maximize profits by marketing and selling via the Prescreen platform.
“Movie goers are increasingly consuming premium content through new digital channels including downloads, streaming, and video on demand generating new revenue streams for the movie industry,” says Bercuson. “Prescreen will help movies of all shapes and sizes receive the love they deserve by leveraging the social tools that exist today to market and distribute movies more efficiently.”
Digital Cinema Report: What is your background and what were you doing prior to the launch of Prescreen?
Shawn Bercuson: Prescreen is the 3rd Internet venture that I've been associated with from the inception of the idea through the product launch and the early stages of growth - with the most notable being Groupon. After I left Groupon in May 2010, I joined an early stage technology investment fund in Chicago called Lightbank. That's where I discovered that as much as I enjoy working along side entrepreneurs and investing in them, I prefer to be the one doing the heavy lifting. I left Chicago in November, headed west and landed in San Francisco by December. Iexplored a few different opportunities, but the opportunity to apply technology to make the the movie distribution space more efficient was the one idea that was keeping me up at night. In February, I incorporated the business, raised capital in March, and convinced an all-star team to join me on this venture by June. Three months later, we launched Prescreen.
DCR: There have been several attempts at online distribution similar to this. How does Prescreen differ from its competitors?
SB: Timing is everything. A good idea does not guarantee success. I have seen way too many good products fail and even some bad products succeed simply due to timing. The current landscape allows us to mobilize an audience faster and more cost effectively than ever before while having the ability to reach them on multiple different platforms. People now consume media on small screens (phones, tablets, personal computers) as much, if not more, than on the big screen.
Additionally, our team has extensive experience building successful technology companies - Groupon, Zoosk, and Facebook - just to name a few. Unlike many of the previous attempts by others in this space, we understand the importance of building an engaged community and have already done so in other verticals. That said, many of our predecessors (even with a team of talented entrepreneurs) have tried their hand at this part of the movie lifecycle and failed. We believe our approach is different. The industry is noisy - technology has flooded the market with tons of great content.
We draw parallels to other businesses and real world interactions that we know are successful and try to emulate them for the movie distribution vertical. One such parallel that we know that works is the idea of "push" distribution (meaning a daily email service with curation approach) rather than "pull." Most of the existing movie sites you see online today take the "pull" approach.
DCR: How are you being capitalized?
SB: Thus far, Prescreen has raised $1 million from angel investors.
DCR: What are your marketing plans to make filmmakers and the public aware of your service?
SB: Unfortunately, we can't divulge all of our trade secrets, but we typically stick to what we're good at. Many of the members of our team have extensive experience in building an engaged online audience. What I can tell you is that we tend to use digital social tools that mirror offline interaction. This typically yields a much better ROI. If the tools don't exist, we're not afraid to create it. For example, the Prescreen TrendSpot. Just like in the real world, people love to be the first to discover movies, books, and music but there is no way to prove it that you were actually the one to discover it before your friends.
The TrendSpot allows users to stake their claim in the discovery process and rewards them for being the first to discover a movie. If you end up being in the first five percent to purchase a title, you are rewarded with credits toward your next purchase on Prescreen. The TrendSpot is a call to action that incentivizes users to buy early and share this movie with their friends, coworkers, and relatives to earn vanity, discounts, and rewards.
DCR: What movie rights do you acquire?
SB: A movie only lives on our platform for 60 days. Because of this, we consider Prescreen a marketing partnership with the content owner. The only thing we ask for is price exclusivity for online VOD or EST for those 60 days.
DCR: What, if any, specific opportunities do you offer filmmakers to have their works shown on the big screen?
SB: We offer filmmakers exposure to an audience they otherwise would not have the ability to reach by sending out a daily email highlighting their film and giving them premier placement on our homepage at prescreen.com for 24 hours. Each movie that is featured on Prescreen also receives a Prescreen Performance Report that provides detailed insight and analytics into the target market for that particular film including: detailed demographics, market opportunities, and a suggested marketing plan.
DCR: What, if any, exhibition companies are you working with?
SB: Today, we only have relationships with content owners (filmmakers, aggregators, distributors, and sales agencies). However, we are currently exploring partnerships with other exhibition companies both digital and traditional to help make the distribution process an easier endeavor for content owners.
Prescreen is now accepting full-length feature film applications on a variety of topics and genres at prescreen.com/submit. Sign up for the daily email service prescreen.com.