Honora, a Venice, Calif.-based production and distribution company, announced on Wednesday that it will release one of its upcoming films in a pay-what-you-can model through BitTorrent.
Hits, a dark comedy written and directed by David Cross (who played Tobias Fünke on Arrested Development) and starring Amy Sedaris and Michael Cera, debuted at Sundance last January. It will be available Feb. 13 on BitTorrent Bundle, coinciding with a release on other digital platforms (Vimeo, iTunes, Google Play), as well as traditional screenings in New York and L.A. The flexible fee model will also be implemented across select movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada, and on Vhx.
The release strategy is a distribution experiment, said Honora founder Giles Andrew in a release. It “was borne out of an unwavering belief in the film and our hopes for it to reach the widest possible audience.”
Hits marks the first feature film and pay-what-you-want project to be released as a BitTorrent Bundle, according to Straith Schreder, director of content strategy, BitTorrent. Through official distribution partnerships like these, over the past few years BitTorrent has been trying to shed its image as an illegal downloading vessel.
Last year it released a Bundle for the award-winning documentary Act of Killing, however those were behind-the-scenes and director’s commentary clips, not the whole film. The site is now also investing in original programming, launching its first hour-long sci-fi series later this year. BitTorrent has also been used by musicians like Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, who released his solo album exclusively on the platform last fall (though there are questions over how much money can be made by “bypassing the self-elected gatekeepers,” as Yorke said about the decision in September.)
Hits is about a young woman (played by Meredith Hagner) living in a small town in upstate New York who tries out for singing competitions like The Voice and American Idol in an effort to become famous. Instead, it’s her father (Matt Walsh) who gains celebrity status after a video of his rant at a town hall meeting is posted on YouTube.
Cross is trying to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter in order to support the pay-what-you-can release model in as many theaters as possible.
Image via the Hits Kickstarter page