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YouTube Tests Rental Service With Sundance

Three indies will be available before their Park City premieres; “The Cove” and “Children of Invention” also available

In an effort to test its pay-per-view platform, YouTube is partnering with the Sundance Film Festival to offer five independent movies for rent on the site, the two partners announced on Wednesday.

The movies will only be available during the festival’s 10-day run and will rent for $3.99 a piece.

The collaboration is the first major test of its rental service, in which the Google-owned site hopes to charge users to view content.

Three of the films available will be debuting during this year’s Sundance fest: Michael Mohan’s “One Too Many Mornings,” Todd and Brad Barnes “Homewrecker” and Linas Philips’ “Bass Ackwards.”

Two movies from last year’s festival will also be available — Tze Chun’s “Children of Invention” and Louie Psihoyo’s “The Cove."

“Making content available for rent will give our partners unprecedented control over the distribution of their work,"  YouTube said in a statement Wednesday." They can decide the price of their videos and the rental duration; they can decide when and where their content is available; and they can keep 100 percent of their rights.”

In the statement, YouTube also said it would be adding a “small collection of rental videos from other U.S. partners across different industries, including health and education” after the festival — and will invite “a small group of partners across other industries” to take part.

“We look at this just as an extension of the festival,” said “Homewrecker” co-director Brad Barnes, in a statement and Todd Barnes added, “This is where film is going. Who knows when it will finally take hold but we want to be there when it does. Especially if that’s now.”

YouTube is also sponsoring the festival’s new NEXT section for lower-budget movies.