Hulu premieres movie before its theatrical release… in Japan

Hulu’s Japanese subscription service is trying out something new this month. Subscribers of will be able to watch the movie Sougen no isu four days before its theatrical release — but only if they’re quick: The movie will just be available on the site for three hours, and only the first 3,000 1000 people will get access to a full-length stream. Others will have to make do with trailers and clips.

It’s the first time Hulu Japan is previewing a movie in this fashion, and it’s also something that Hulu hasn’t done stateside. The U.S. service has in the past previewed a number of TV shows before pilots or season premieres aired on TV.

Broadcasters love that kind of exposure because it helps to fuel the buzz for new shows. The Sougen no isu experiment brings up the question of whether this would work for movies as well. Maybe the limited Hulu premiere will one day replace the guy offering up free movie tickets in front of big city movie theaters.