UPDATE: Indiewire parent company SnagFilms has announced the opening of its new social video platform to the public, with more than 5,000 newly added independent titles, including Shane Carruth's 2004 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner "Primer," Morgan Spurlock's documentary "Super Size Me," and 2008 comedy "Visioneers," starring Zach Galifianakis and Judy Greer. The 1939 John Ford classic "Stagecoach," starring John Wayne and Claire Trevor, has also been made available.
EARLIER: While the studios continue to protect their old deals with the cable companies and ancillary windows, Indiewire parent SnagFilms has launched the private beta version of a new streaming social video platform in anticipation of a public launch later this summer. Check it out by signing up for an invite to the private beta here.
“We believe that consumers are growing hungrier for movies on-demand," said SnagFilms CEO Rick Allen, "yet most major Hollywood studios are reluctant to embrace innovation at the pace needed to keep up with this demand."
As with SnagFilms' current ad-based video on demand content -- a library of thousands of indies, classics and documentaries -- the video service is completely free. The new SnagFilms experience emphasizes community engagement and social interaction among tech-savvy audiences and cinephiles. Users can create and remix movie collections and share favorites and reviews with friends. They also can take advantage of personalized recommendations from SnagFilms' editorial team.
The minute you sign into the SnagFilms site, the editors recommend a movie--in my case, it was Sundance 2002 fave "The Slaughter Rule," starring a young and excellent Ryan Gosling. You get a brief ad--mercifully short--and then the movie. It loaded quickly.
I quickly set up my profile (in settings) and browsed the categories and filed some feedback--hey guys, add western! Under Romance, SnagFilms gave me "Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam," which was interesting, as well as Hal Hartley's "Flirt," an excellent movie, and Nick Broomfield's "Kurt & Courtney" --I guess that qualifies--and "Assault of the Party Nerds."
I added some movies to my queue, including the Duplasses' "The Puffy Chair," which I have long wanted to see, and Marlon Brando's "One-Eyed Jacks," a great western that I added to my Best Western collection, which I assembled using the search function, and will add to later. They have some trailers for movies that they don't have access to, which I found a bit confusing. You can also remix the SnagFilms editors' or other people's collections. I added "Bye Bye Birdie" to their Guilty Pleasures collection.
Of the site, Allen says that "the new experience reflects everything we've learned in the 5 years since launch about how people like to watch films and interact with other fans. We have also carefully studied the dynamics of other rapidly growing sites, and incorporated those for the first time in a streaming video environment."
Along with their new video service, five-year-old SnagFilms, which is backed by Ted Leonsis, Steve Case's Revolution Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Comcast Interactive Capital, and Terry Semel's Windsor Media, among other investors. will be adding more films to their streaming library, extending that content across digital and mobile platforms, from iOS and Windows 8 devices to Roku, Kindle and beyond.