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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For the first time ever, a film distributor will use Facebook to debut a movie exclusively via a ticketed live event, executives tell Axios.

Driving the news: "The Outsider," a controversial documentary about the construction of the 9/11 Museum in Manhattan, will premiere publicly on Facebook for $3.99 on Aug. 19.

Why it matters: Putting films on Facebook could lower the barrier to distribute content for smaller filmmakers and studios, especially for those looking to reach audiences in smaller markets where it's harder to broker local deals.

  • "Until this film, you would have had to find an international distributor to do individual broadcast and theatrical deals," says Steven Rosenbaum, director of "The Outsider."
  • "Once you got past big English-speaking markets, it wouldn’t have been worth it," he says. "Without Facebook, all of the mid-sized and smaller markets would never see this."

Details: The film will be available on Facebook Live at 8 p.m. ET to all worldwide Facebook users that pay for access via a link provided by the film's distributor.

  • The premiere can be viewed by any Facebook users in countries where Paid Online Events are available. Currently, they are available in more than 100 countries worldwide.
  • Facebook will be providing some paid promotion to help market the event. The tech giant has committed to not taking a cut of any ticketed events or revenue from independent creators until 2023.
  • The film will play in select theaters and on-demand via streaming in September.
  • The global debut will be followed by a panel discussion on Facebook Live. The film will play in select theaters and on-demand via streaming in September.

How it works: Like any other ticketed event on Facebook, the distributors of the film — a global film distribution company called Abramorama — set the price for the premiere.

  • Rosenbaum said the goal was to keep the price low enough for now to be able to attract a wide audience.
  • Facebook has been home to exclusive streaming shows and live events for months, but it's never premiered a film before.

Go deeper: The film documents the drama behind the construction of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Its directors, Pamela Yoder and Steven Rosenbaum, have spent nearly two decades archiving the story.

  • Given that nearly 1/3 of the museum's visitors are international, Rosenbaum said an international audience was important for the film's debut.
"The Outsider" co-directors Steven Rosenbaum and Pamela Yoder

Controversy surrounding the documentary also makes the premiere notable.

  • The museum's management has called it "defamatory" for its portrait of what interviewees in the film refer to as the "Disneyfication" of 9/11.
  • The museum has argued that the film's lens is "ideological." Rosenbaum has responded that it's "focused on free speech, and open debate and discussion."

What to watch: "The Outsider" is the first movie to be distributed this way, and it's still unclear what price consumers are willing to pay for any movie, let alone a documentary, on Facebook.

Go deeper

Inside the Tampa Museum of Art's epic expansion

Rendering courtesy of Tampa Museum of Art

The Tampa Museum of Art unveiled impressive plans for a $68 million expansion and redevelopment of its building and land on Curtis Hixon Park, adding about 51,000 square feet of new space to the existing 25,000-square-foot museum.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."