Independent distributor IFC Films is poised to launch its own streaming service called IFC Films Unlimited, which will initially be accessible through Amazon Prime Video Channels. The service will include hundreds of movies, including The Babadook, The Trip, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Certified Copy, Gomorrah, and more.
But even with its own impressive selection of acclaimed independent movies, will IFC Films Unlimited be able to survive against the ever-growing competition in the streaming arena?
Variety reports that the films on this service will come from several divisions of the company, including IFC Films, Sundance Selects, and their genre label, IFC Midnight, which has released movies like Kill List, Antichrist, and 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene.
The launch of the new service is said to coincide with the Cannes Film Festival; that fest is happening now, so while there’s no official date in place for the IFC Films Unlimited launch, I expect it will happen very soon. The monthly cost will be $5.99, and the films available to view will be “routinely updated.” IFC currently has deals in place with Hulu and Showtime, which get some of IFC’s films during the first pay television window, and those deals will continue to be honored. According to IFC Films co-president Lisa Schwartz, the plan is to release movies onto this new service in the second pay TV window, and this all “part of a deliberate strategy” they developed once they “realized that we’ve got such a terrific large library that we might be better served by taking some rights back and releasing those films under our own roof.”
Providing consumers with a specialized list of independent movies is an admirable idea – but The Criterion Channel, which launched recently and scooped up much of the goodwill of cinephile audiences who were disappointed with the dissolution of FilmStruck, seems to already cornered that market. And with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu showing no signs of slowing down, Apple TV+ waiting in the wings, and the behemoth of Disney+ looming over us all before its own debut later this year, I’m finding it difficult to envision a world in which people consider IFC Films Unlimited a vital service to which they must subscribe. I certainly don’t wish any ill will toward them, but there’s an awful lot of activity in the streaming space right now (I forgot about WarnerMedia, who’s also launching their own service soon!), so I just hope they know what they’re doing.
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