Actor-turned-film producer Abhay Deol will release his film One by Two on Facebook along with its theatrical release, in a first. Apart from India and Nepal, where the film will be released in theaters, One by Two will be available for a 48 hour rental for $4.99 on Viacom’s page (probably, Viacom18, not Viacom) and Deol’s own Facebook page. This is effectively an extension of what Rajshri Media did in 2006 with the release of the film Vivah. We’re assuming DRM will be involved, because if it isn’t, it will only lead to more piracy. (hat tip: Amlan Mohanty) A few points to consider:

1. Why Release Online? It’s important to note that films make an estimated 70% of their revenues in the first weekend itself, and much depends on the marketing that goes before the launch. One by Two has suffered because it’s music launch was impacted by an impasse with T-Series leading up to the release of One by Two, and we wonder whether it’s also about theaters not being interested in releasing the film internationally. A release online will also help address piracy of the movie internationally in the first week, if it isn’t available in theaters.

2. Why Facebook? Why Not YouTube This is intriguing: YouTube (or even DailyMotion or Metacafe) would appear to be the default, natural option for a film to be released online. The thinking behind that would be – lets go where the audience goes. YouTube has a subscription service in the US, with Indian films. However, YouTube is a terrible platform for building a community, and the discovery of content is almost never in the publishers hands. Therefore, as we’ve found out in our research on YouTube, content creators have chose to reach out to fans and potential viewers via Facebook and Twitter, and build their communities on those platforms.

3. Facebook & YouTube’s Community Problems: Of course, things are changing: Facebook communities are hardly as effective for brands as they once were: reach has been restricted by Facebook’s newsfeed changes last year (in our case, posts reach out to 1/10th the readers they used to), and Facebook is using this limitation of reach to try and push page owners to promote their posts on the site. At the same time Google has integrated Google Plus with YouTube comments, but frankly, while that has led to cleaner comments on YouTube, it will only work when people actually start using Google Plus. What’s the best alternative out there? Well… none that we know of. There’s a need for a SoundCloud for video.

One by Two So far: Abhay Deol accused T-Series of not promoting his movie, of forcing artists to sign allegedly illegal contracts and he said that the songs from his movie were not being released as the artists did not agree with certain clause in the agreement. Deol also turned up at an award show with a black eye, apparently his way of saying “visually (and symbolically) that the film’s marketing has taken a hit.” T-Series said that its contracts were not illegal and accused musicians and several members of Bollywood fraternity of “illegal cartelization”. T-Series later relinquished music rights for the movie in the absence of valid link agreements between Viacom and composers of the album.

Deol’s statement on the release of One by Two on Facebook (source) Many producers will be happy to know that they now have a new platform to release their films. Traditional ways of doing business are constantly changing in our modern age. This is the 1st Hindi movie available to rent for audiences around the world (except India and Nepal where it is in cinemas) on the film’s Facebook page, Viacom’s page, and my page at $4.99 for a 48 hour rental! This enables audiences around the world to watch the film in highest quality, at their fingertips, on their computers, without having to wait or succumb to piracy. This will help producers to make films that tell unique stories, because through this process, they can take on the inefficiencies of the system. Old school processes of international theatrical releases, only make commercial sense for the very large budget films, for the rest of the films, digital release is the way to ensure that content reaches the user legally and in a way to build new levels of distribution. Help us fight piracy. Support all kinds of movies. Give variety a chance. Reach out to the world.