Spike Lee's latest movie wouldn't exist without the internet, and now Lee is going online to distribute the film, too. Lee's new film, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, is today being made available to rent and buy on Vimeo, a full month ahead of the film's planned theatrical release. In a video announcing the film's online premiere today, Lee doesn't elaborate much on the surprising distribution choice. "Check it out," Lee says at the end of the video. "Peace."
Lee's film is a big grab for Vimeo
Digital distribution is slowly becoming more common for feature films — especially for low-budget matters like this. In particular, indie films are often released digitally or on VOD platforms before entering theaters as a way to increase buzz. That's been done with some major directors — like Lars Von Trier, with Nymphomaniac — but it's still rare for a marketable name like Lee to head straight online. Vimeo is streaming the movie in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It's $9.99 to rent and $14.99 to purchase.
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus may be more suited to an online release. The film was funded through a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, so there are fans out there who will likely jump at the opportunity to watch it early online. The apparent eccentricity of this new film may also lend to an online release, allowing Da Sweet Blood of Jesus to gain some steam before it's in theaters. Lee's latest is a vampire pic, though he prefers not to call it one: rather, it's a modern "love story" about people who become addicted to blood and want to live forever. It's supposed to explore the nature of "love, addiction, sex, and status" in today's society.
The film is also a big grab for Vimeo. Vimeo has been operating a paid section of its website for a little while now, but it hasn't seen a lot of attention. To be fair, most people likely found out that YouTube sold and rented movies just a couple weeks ago when it debuted The Interview, but that just goes to show how hard of a time these streaming services are having at finding audiences for paid content. Lee's movie certainly isn't going to attract Vimeo anywhere near the attention that YouTube recently received, but getting Lee on board should certainly help.