Serial entrepreneur Martin Warner wants to shake things up. Flix Premiere, his ambitious new streaming movie service, won’t just change the way we watch movies, he promises — it is poised to disrupt the entire film industry.
“I’m essentially turning it upside down,” Warner says.
Until now, says Warner, there were two ways to watch film: streaming services and theaters. Flix Premiere represents a third way, combining the convenience of online content with the excitement of the theater. “It’s going to change the entire industry and bring something not just new, but very different.”
Recently, Flix Premiere announced it was now available on Apple TV, the first of many new distribution channels in the works for the company, which focuses on independent films.
Warner, who has started companies as varied as 3-D printing and recruitment, credits his business instincts with the idea for Flix Premiere. “I saw movies going online really fast. I saw Blockbuster going out of business. I saw it way before it happened,” he confides. He also saw the new on-demand services mimicking the way video stores operated, requiring customers to sift through vast amounts of content, much of which could be found elsewhere.
And he recognized an opportunity: a market for a service that would offer exclusive, curated content, and replicate the buzz and build-up of a theatrical release. To create that anticipation, Flix Premiere markets films through social media and online “Red Carpet” premieres.
“I wanted to recapture the excitement of going to the cinema and bring it online. It’s very, very, very different from Netflix or Amazon, which are just essentially stores to stream movies,” says Warner. With only six to eight releases per month, Flix Premiere uses advanced metrics to select “audience worthy” movies.
To source films for Flix Premiere, Warner and his team scour “small but significant festivals,” such as Telluride, Berlin and Venice, seeking hidden gems. While he allows he’s “swimming up tide” to convince distributors and filmmakers to embrace his new model, he’s competing — and increasingly winning — against more established contenders for exclusive rights to new films. One such movie is “Interwoven,” starring Oscar winner Mo’Nique, which Warner boasts he “stole from Netflix and Amazon. It’s been a big success for us. It’s a wonderful independent movie.”
It’s indies that are at the heart of Flix Premiere’s business. Films in their library include a British comedy (“SuperBob”), an intimate period drama (“A Nightingale Falling”) and an action film (“Tula, the Revolt”).
“We speak for the former independent movie market,” which he calls “the poor relation” of studio films. “We know that’s not true, because movies aren’t measured by budget, or talent, or who made it. They’re measured by resonance, impact, relevance, story … those are the things that matter about movies.”
Through its website, flixpremiere.com, Apple TV, and apps for iOS and Android, Flix Premiere’s current rotating library offers viewers access to 200 films, with an additional 450 in the pipeline. Rather than being a subscription service, films cost $4.99 each: “It’s like going to the box office and buying a ticket.”
Warner, a movie buff who splits his time between London and New York’s Hell’s Kitchen and East Hampton, seems nostalgic for the very theater experience Flix Premiere may be helping supplant. “I hope it doesn’t go away,” he says “because I still want to go to the movie theater.”