Vimeo’s short films will hit select theaters this weekend

Vimeo is ramping up its efforts focused on getting its programming in front of an adult audience interested in indie video content, with the announcement of a partnership with Spotlight Cinema Networks that brings its short-form videos to the silver screen. Spotlight, which is owned by Mark Cuban, Todd Wagner and Arthouse Marketing Group, works with independent theater chains, and specifically those catering to an upscale, 18+ audience.

The deal will see one to three of Vimeo’s short films being played monthly during Spotlight’s 20-minute preshow before each movie in the Spotlight network. This includes a number of indie and art house chains across the U.S., including those in big cities like New York, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, St Louis, San Francisco, L.A., and many more. The company works with Angelika Film Center, Laemmle Theatres and Landmark Theatres, among others. In total, Spotlight has over 200 theaters nationwide.

Vimeo confirms that no investment was made as a part of this deal, nor did any money exchange hands. The two companies will be co-selling together, a representative says.

The films to be aired on-screen will be chosen from Vimeo’s Staff Picks Channel, an editorially curated selection of the network’s programming from its best filmmakers. These top films have also been more recently featured in Vimeo’s mobile application, following an update aimed at improving discovery across the video service.

In addition to getting its content on the movie theater’s big screen, Vimeo and Spotlight are working together on the advertising front as well, as a part of this deal involves cross-channel opportunities for their “premium advertisers,” the company notes. Plus, Spotlight will also be able to utilize Vimeo’s in-house studio to create its own content, which will also appear on Vimeo.

The partnership begins this weekend (Friday, April 15), with the debut of filmmaker Mac Premo’s 3-minute short “The Bucket Board,” a story about making skateboards from trash and plastic buckets.

The Bucket Board + Chill at Brooklyn Transition Center P373K from mac premo on Vimeo.

Putting Vimeo into theaters may make it sound like the company has Netflix-like ambitions (Netflix moved into feature films, including those aired in theaters, last fall). However, this is more of a marketing opportunity for Vimeo. The company has been doubling down on its investments in original content, and is working to differentiate itself from rival YouTube by targeting an older audience.

While many of YouTube Red’s programs are aimed at a younger fanbase, as with PewDiePie’s new show now on YouTube’s subscription service, Vimeo’s videos are often of a more adult nature. Many focus on adult relationships and sexuality, or include adult humor, for example. Clearly, the audience for these films and series would overlap quite a bit with the 18-and-up crowd going to art house movies.

“Spotlight’s educated, affluent audience and theatres specializing in the best of independent films and luxury cinema, are very much in line with the Vimeo audience and make them the perfect theatrical partner for this program,” says Vimeo’s Richard Bloom, VP of its Global Business Development & Brand Partnerships, in a statement.