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Prescreen Launches Limited-Time Indie Streaming

Service from ex-Groupon exec geared toward building buzz on indie films


Prescreen, a new online movie marketing and distribution platform started by former Groupon executive Shawn Bercuson, launched this week with a focus on online streaming and sharing via social media.

The San Francisco-based service sends its users a daily email alert highlighting a single indie film. That film is featured on the Prescreen home page, where viewers can watch its trailer for free and rent the film for $4 during its first 24 hours on the site.

Prescreen home pageUnlike most other online-stream rental services, Prescreen only keeps films on its site for 60 days. The website is geared to encourage immediate buzz about its films, with bonuses for early renters and the $4 price doubling to $8 after the first 24 hours.

“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,” said Bercuson, who founded Prescreen and serves as its CEO.

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Rented films are featured on the user's My Queue page. Once the viewer begins watching, he or she has 48 hours to finish.

Bercuson told TheWrap that Prescreen currently deals directly with independent filmmakers, but is also pursing relationships with aggregators, distributors and film festivals. It has formally announced a content deal with Kino Lorber and the Film Collaborative.

Prescreen gives filmmakers 50 percent of the revenue from rentals. After the 60-day run, it offers filmmakers a Prescreen Performance Report with extensive data about the demographics of the viewers who've rented their film (but not their identities or contact information), along with recommendations for future marketing efforts.

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The service launched on Wednesday, and so far it is offering two films. The first day's entry was the documentary "How to Start Your Own Country," director Jody Shapiro's look at six unrecognized, self-declared "micronations." The second was the German/Australian action film "Robber," the true story of a Austrian bank robber from director Benjamin Heisenberg.

Prescreen also includes features designed to encourage viewers to share their thoughts on the service and the movies via social networking. If a viewer is one of the first five percent to rent a movie, he or she receives a "TrendSpot" bonus, and gets the next rental free of charge.

The more people rent a film, the more fall into the TrendSpot category and receive the bonus.

As of Thursday afternoon, "How to Start Your Own Country" had been viewed close to 2,000 times, and rented 69 times. "Robber" had more than 700 views and 41 rentals.

Viewers can sign up for Prescreen at www.prescreen.com/. The service is also accepting feature-length submissions at its Call for Entries page, https://prescreen.com/films/call_for_entries.  As a curated service, it does not accept every film offered.