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SnagFilms Launches New Site, New Platforms, New Distribution -- and Its First Narrative Films

Photo of Dana Harris By Dana Harris | Indiewire September 22, 2011 at 4:1AM

SnagFilms has launched a major upgrade of its website while announcing its first collection of 400 narrative titles that will include films like Richard Linklater's "Slacker" (see the full film for free, below) and Wong Kar-Wai's "Happy Together."
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SnagFilms has launched a major upgrade of its website while announcing its first collection of 400 narrative titles that will include films like Richard Linklater's "Slacker" (see the full film for free, below) and Wong Kar-Wai's "Happy Together."

Snag also announced that its library will soon be available on an additional nine outlets and platforms, including DirectTV, Xbox 360 and Vudu.

Snag, which currently streams more than 2,300 documentaries, has licensed more than 400 fiction films and is currently processing 150 titles. The digital premieres include:

• "Too Young To Die," starring Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis
• "Women Talking Dirty" starring Helena Bonham Carter
• "P.U.N.K.S.," featuring Jessica Alba
• "Teknolust" starring Tilda Swinton

These films will initially be available for paid viewing; later, they'll convert to free viewing via the SnagFilms site.

These films will be available for free via snagfilms.com and its free-to-view network:

• Josef Von Sternberg’s "The Blue Angel," Luis Bunel’s "Un Chien Andalou" and D.W. Griffith’s "Intolerance" and "Abraham Lincoln"
• Michelangelo Antonioni's "Il Grido," Adrienne Shelley's "Sudden Manhattan" and So Yong Kim's "In Between Days"
• Early performances from David Strathairn and Melissa Leo ("Racing Daylight"), Reese Witherspoon, Patricia Arquette and Beau Bridges ("Wildflower," directed by Diane Keaton), Oprah Winfrey ("Women of Brewster Place") and Brooke Shields ("Endless Love")
• Richard Linklater's "Slacker" and Wong Kar-Wai's "Happy Together."

On the documentary side, the company is adding "Confessions Of An Eco-Terrorist," which will be available for paid viewing following its current theatrical run and ultimately on a free-to-view basis. Earlier this month, SnagFilms announced upcoming digital pay-to-view premieres of "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell," "Dragonslayer" and "Splinters."

Here's the rundown on the new platforms and their anticipated timelines.

On the free-to-view side:

• Android and BlackBerry for the SnagFilms app, allowing viewers to watch the films via Adobe Flash/Adobe® Air® (end of year)
• DirectTV (October)
• Connected TV sets built by Samsung and Vizio (models that debut end of the year)

On the paid side:

• Xbox LIVE for Xbox 360 (October)
• Vudu (October)
• Samsung Media Hub (end of year)

Finally, here's a rundown on features of the just-launched site:

• Embeddable player for films encoded in Flash, H264 (Safari and IE9 browsers) and OGG (Firefox, Chrome); automatically switches to HTML5 when possible
• Design that surfaces multiple films and editorially curated slates
• Enhanced search and contextual content (including from SnagFilms’ indieWIRE);
• A “filmanthropy” hub in which social-change films connect to opportunities to volunteer or donate;  
• Broader social media functions, including deep Facebook integration.

Of course, all of this comes after Netflix has experienced a very public spanking with the launch of its Qwikster offshoot. However, CEO Rick Allen says he doesn't see their struggle as being tied to SnagFilms' potential success.

"We intend to offer something different at a time that they're emphasizing TV and blockbusters," he said. "That doesn't necessarily mean it's better, just different. They'll hopefully grow to be a huge company and we hope to be a big company."

In a statement, SnagFilms founder and chairman Ted Leonsis said the new site fulfills the premise “that new technologies could liberate audiences to enjoy great films that, because of a bottleneck in traditional film distribution, they might not ever get to see. With these remarkable enhancements to SnagFilms.com and the new distribution partnerships we’ve announced today, SnagFilms becomes a ubiquitous platform that will benefit consumers,
filmmakers and communities.”

And, in the spirit of full disclosure (since Snag is our parent company), I can comfortably say that a tremendous amount of work has gone into the site's expansion. And this would also be a good time to mention that indieWIRE will be receiving its own makeover in the very near future.

Take a look; what do you think? Let us know in the comments.