Educational distributor Kanopy has struck a deal with Paramount Pictures, adding 100 classic films from the studio’s library to the on-demand streaming service. Twenty-five of those titles – including “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Harold and Maude,” “Sunset Boulevard,” and “Saturday Night Fever” — are available to stream now. The other 75 titles will be added in the coming weeks and months. (The full list is at the bottom of this article.)
Kanopy has been a pioneer in the educational market, first in its move away from physical media and toward a streaming app that is available on Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Tablet, and iOS and Android devices. Last year, they also expanded beyond universities and institutions and started to aggressively strike deals with public libraries making Kanopy available to a far wider percentage of the population. Now those with a public library card can access the free streaming service in a number of major cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Brooklyn, Queens, Austin, New Orleans, San Francisco, Annapolis, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Phoenix.
As the service’s reach has grown, so has its catalogue. It retained educational distribution rights for films from Magnolia, The Orchard, Oscilloscope, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Kino Lorber, PBS, and The Criterion Collection, along with thousands of indie and documentary filmmakers. Titles that have been added in the last year include “Hunt For the Wilderpeople,” “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” “Seven Samurai,” “Loving Vincent,” “The Love Witch,” “All These Sleepless Nights” and every film made by Frederick Wiseman.
Paramount Digital Television Distribution
A film’s educational distribution rights are different than the commercial rights sold to cable or premium television stations, or VOD (iTunes, cable on-demand) and subscription VOD services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Filmstruck), as they arey intended for educational and non-profit organizations and institutions, which include public libraries. Kanopy founder and CEO Olivia Humphrey said the service is not trying to build a catalogue to compete with Netflix, but to fill what they see as a curatorial gap.
“How we define if a film is a Kanopy film is when the user goes away do they feel challenged, do they think about the world differently, will it spark a conversation, are they enriched,” she said. “We know from our patrons a lot of our users are not cinephiles, they never studied film, some have said they never watched a film with subtitles before, so being able to extend their range and offer these films is really exciting.”
As an example of the service’s curation, Humphrey pointed toward Kanopy Kids, launched in partnership with Common Sense Media with an emphasis on content geared to inspire, inform, and help children develop empathy, mindfulness, and self-esteem. Films that are popular on Kanopy are also different than they would be on a commercial platform. According to Humphrey, the hottest title on Kanopy right now is the Turkish cat documentary “Kedi;” last year, it was the James Baldwin documentary “I Am Not Your Negro.”
Humphrey said that she hoped the Paramount deal was the first of many; Kanopy is in discussions with other Hollywood studios about opening up its classic film libraries to the educational market.
Paramount films available to stream now on Kanopy: “The Accused,” “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Bon Voyage Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back),” “Gung Ho,” “Blue Hawaii,” “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Ordinary People,” “The Quiet Man,” “The Two Jakes,” “48 Hrs.,” “Firstborn,” “Love Streams,” “Downhill Racer,” “Alfie,” “Atlantic City,” “Catch-22,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Fancy Pants,” “Funny Face,” “Harold and Maude,” “Indiscreet,” “Paper Moon,” “Samson and Delilah,” “Sunset Boulevard,” and “Saturday Night Fever.”
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