AOL Tells True Stories

    December 8, 2006

AOL appeals to a different demographic of online movie buyers with the release of the documentary download site “True Stories”.

AOL targets art house moviegoers with the launch of their pay-per-download documentary video site “True Stories”, which is something that competing online movie distributors such as Yahoo! and Google have yet to do.

Although the documentary film genre does not generate as much revenue as the mainstream market, it does have its share of fans and breakout hits. The Al Gore documentary on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth”, is generating Oscar buzz and will be honored with the Producer’s Guild of America’s Stanley Kramer Award in 2007.

True Stories will feature both critically acclaimed documentaries, like Gore’s, as well as independent titles, before their theatrical release.

Each month, the site will release two feature-length films that will be available to stream free on demand, with ads, or as pay-per-download to own. Generally, prices will range from $1.99 to $14.99.

The first film to debut on the site will be “Danielson: A Family Movie”, which is about a family performing in an indie rock band. The second is titled “Shadow Company”, and looks inside the private security firms of Iraq. Both films debuting this month have been featured at several major movie festivals around the world.

“In addition to presenting a groundbreaking platform for new films seeking distribution, True Stories will provide a forum for users to react, share their own stories, and connect with each other,” said Jordan Kurzweil, Vice President, Programming and Production for AOL.

True Stories utilizes AOL community tools such as blogs, live chat, message boards, and UnCut video; providing a forum for viewers to discuss the films.

For filmmakers, the community element provides a way to market their subject matter, which is sometimes controversial, to audiences before it debuts in theaters.

Kurzweil justifies the reasoning behind the launch of the site by saying, “The success of our earlier efforts with The Ground Truth, and The Breast Cancer Diaries support this model, and launching a platform primed for scale and growth is an exciting next step.”

True Stories should receive quite a bit of traffic, as documentaries have become mainstream as of late. No doubt we are sure to see other major video downloading sites follow AOL’s lead in the near future, with their own brand of “indie” movie sites.

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Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.