Although Spike Lee has made his share of big Hollywood movies, he’s always been an independent at heart. It makes perfect sense, then, that his latest picture would find its way online–on purpose!–before it arrives in theaters.
Lee financed the movie’s $1.4 million budget ($150,000 more than he asked for) via Kickstarter back in 2013, and today he posted a video announcing that the kind-of sort-of vampire flick, called Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, will be made available to rent and buy on Vimeo starting now, a full month before it’s scheduled to land in theaters.
“Spike Lee is one of the most iconic filmmakers of our time and we couldn’t be more thrilled to work with him on this unprecedented release,” said Vimeo GM for audience networks Greg Clayman in a public statement. “We are huge fans of Spike and were drawn to the film’s independent spirit. Having built an audience and raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter, we are beyond excited to bring the film to fans directly one month ahead of the theatrical release.”
This marks an exciting point in both the evolution of Vimeo—which confirmed to Fast Company that this is the first release of its kind for the company—and online movie distribution in general.
While not totally unheard of, it’s certainly rare for a filmmaker with name recognition like Spike Lee to head online with a movie first. Most recently, the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy The Interview was simultaneously launched on multiple platforms, including VOD—although that involved some extenuating circumstances. Since that movie wound up performing well, and with directors like Spike Lee showing that Vimeo releases are viable, 2015 could be the year Hollywood decides that online distribution is A-OK.
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is available in the U.S. for a $9.99 24-hour streaming rental, or $14.99 digital download.
[via The Verge]