Quibi Creators Can Edit Their Bite-Sized Content Into Full Feature Films After Two Years

You might have heard about Quibi (short for "Quick Bites"), the upcoming streaming subscription service that will only be accessible on mobile devices. Longform shows will be broken up and served to audiences in short chunks, and the service has managed to lure in some top shelf creators like Steven Spielberg, Antoine Fuqua, Sam Raimi, Steven Soderbergh, and Guillermo del Toro, just to name a few.

But now we have a better understanding of exactly how this nascent service was able to lure such high-end talent. According to a new report, Quibi will be initially licensing content from these creators, but after two years of exclusivity, the service will allow them to re-edit those stories into full features and sell the rights elsewhere, giving them the potential for a huge payoff down the line. 

Vanity Fair has a new article about how Quibi plans to make a splash when it debuts in April 2020, and it includes some info we hadn't heard about the new company before:

It says it will give financial control to its creators. The company will exclusively license the content in bite-size-chunk form for seven years—but after two years on the service, the creator of the show (and the studio behind it) will be able to edit it into one contiguous piece and sell the rights to a global audience, reaping the financial rewards that come with such a deal.

Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) is making a two-and-a-half-hour drama called #Freerayshawn for Quibi, a Dog Day Afternoon-esque story starring Stephen James (If Beale Street Could Talk, Homecoming) as an Iraq War vet who finds himself in a showdown with a New Orleans SWAT team. Fuqua was originally thinking about making it as a movie, but realized that this new service presented him with an intriguing alternative:

"Someone is basically financing a film or a TV show for you on a new platform, and then for the film itself, you get to own the I.P. I can't think of a better situation. Quibi is basically paying for a film, and then in a few years time, you get to own it. It's incredible."

Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of Quibi's co-founders, is a smart dude – he knew he had to find a way to attract A-list talent to this new platform, and with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Apple, Disney+, and WarnerMedia looking to fill their own ranks, he had to do something that would make his platform stand out:

"From day one the inspiration for this is the TV industry that I grew up in. Before the financial rules of syndication went away, the networks never owned their I.P. They were only able to license it for a prescribed window. The real blockbuster home run came in ownership, specifically the post-network window where suddenly the creators and owners of the content were able to make genuine fortunes...Our aspiration is they will be paid well, and competitively, for their time making the content with us. But the blockbuster here is if they make something great, two years later they [will] own it. That's the uniqueness of this, and I think has been a big appeal."

Knowing about this two-year-and-then-a-movie dynamic, the question now becomes: will consumers be interested enough in these bite-sized chunks of storytelling that they'll be willing to pay to watch them through Quibi, or will they just hold off, knowing that if the content is good enough, it will eventually make its way to a theater or a different streaming service altogether?

The service will cost $4.99 a month with advertising and $7.99 without, and the service will feature three distinct sections of programming:

  • Quick Bites – Unserialized stories. VF cites an eight-episode stunt-driving show starring Idris Elba and driver Ken Block as an example.
  • Daily Essentials – A six-and-a-half-minute news program "curated for your personal tastes" that will have new episodes three times a day.
  • Lighthouses – The platform's name for the high-profile serialized shows from filmmakers like Spielberg, Paul Feig, Catherine Hardwicke, and more. These projects will be accessible in 7- to 10-minute episodes, and will ultimately range between two to four hours in length.
  • This is a fascinating experiment, and since Quibi already has at least $1 billion in backing and the support of every major studio, it appears that once it debuts next year, it won't be disappearing any time soon.