The Yes Men have gotten more than $11,000 in donations since they released their latest movie The Yes Men Fix The World on file sharing networks late last week, according to the duo’s co-founder Mike Bonanno, who told me during a phone conversation that new donations are currently coming in at a rate of $500 per hour. “It’s going great,” he said, adding that there has been “tons” of e-mail feedback from viewers as well.
The Yes Men have teamed up with VODO for this release, and the movie is currently promoted on the home page of The Pirate Bay as well as uTorrent.com and within the LimeWire client. VODO’s Jamie King said that the platform has seen around 200,000 downloads of the movie, and VODO’s tracker currently lists more than 15,000 seeders for different versions of the file.
Bonanno told me that the duo had a hard time securing distribution deals for the movie, which chronicles pranks against Haliburton and Dow Chemical, amongst others. For instance, the film won an audience award at the prestigious International Film Festival in Berlin, but hasn’t gotten any distribution in Germany. There has also been only limited theatrical release in the U.S., and getting the movie even in a few theater oftentimes took a lot of work. “It’s just kind of amazing how much easier it is,” said Bonanno about reaching an audience via P2P.
Bonanno still seemed skeptical about the long-term viability of the donation model for the entire industry, questioning whether donations will be enough to make really expensive films. “This is a great supplement,” he said, adding that there could potentially be a tipping point at which enough people would donate.
For the Yes Men, that tipping point could actually come sooner than later. The duo has already said that it will definitely publish its next movie on file-sharing sites again to give back to people who finance its production with their donations. But Bonanno said that they could also change their mind on other distribution methods, like theatrical releases or TV deals, depending on how much money the current donation campaign will bring in.
The duo is currently planing to sell its next movie to TV again, but doing so tends to add a lot of additional costs for legal clearances and similar issues. “There is a chance that we would just release it on P2P,” if enough money came in via donations, he said, adding: “We might consider it as a completely alternative distribution model.”
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